My Mother was born on the 9th of July, 1924. If she was still alive, she would have been 91 today. But she sadly died in 2012, and didn’t see her 88th birthday. I think of her often of course, but it is always a little more poignant on this date.
She was a Londoner, an ordinary woman from a working-class background, who sought to better her circumstances, and to improve her lot in life. Her teenage years were scarred by the Second World War, and her marriage to my father was not completely happy. But she found her joy from having me, being with her family and friends, and loving her pets. She worked hard all her life, long past a normal retirement age. Until her mobility was reduced by illness, she could be seen out with her beloved dogs two or three times a day, in the area where she lived.
She managed old age well. She did not complain about loneliness, and found her pleasures in simple things; a dog at her feet, a cat on her lap, a good book to read, or favourite TV show to watch. She was devoted to her extended family, and remained a great friend to me until the day she died, as well as a mother who trusted me to do the right thing, and to live my life well. She worried about the state of the world, supported charities helping African children, and also animal charities here in the UK. She would do anything to help an older neighbour, whether preparing them food and cakes, or getting their shopping for them.
Her own needs were few. She eschewed luxuries, and was happy to eat the same food she had enjoyed for all of her life. As long as her pets were well-cared for, and her family content, then she was happy. She never asked to be taken out, or for gifts, yet was free with her own generosity to anyone in need. She could teach many of us what it means to live a life that involves caring for others, never putting yourself first. She was a good woman, in every sense of that description.
She will not be remembered as others are, by their so-called achievements, or successes. But she did achieve, often against trying circumstances, and she was successful; as a mother, a sister, an aunt, a friend, and a neighbour. She was of her time, and that was a good time.
Happy Birthday, Mum.
Violet Johnson 1924-2012.