Eighty Years On

Mum 1936

About eighty years separate this photograph of my Mother, taken around 1936 when she was 18, and this drawing, hastily completed as she concentrated on her newspaper last Saturday afternoon:

MER blog

May (A5, ink and pencil on sketchbook page, 2016)

In between she had two children, lived through the war that brought with it many personal tragedies, suffered a betrayal by one of her two brothers, and moved into – and later out of – her dream house. She outlived her brothers and her five sisters and nursed her husband – my Father – through his only serious illness (which eventually killed him) – all etched in the lines on her face.

It’s probably about 75% accurate as a portrait: what I couldn’t capture is her humour. Despite everything that life has thrown at her she has a wonderful sense of the ridiculous, so much so that it was difficult to detect the onset of her dementia five or six years ago. Now that reality is something of a sliding scale for her, the disappointments of her life have largely fallen away leaving intact her ability to laugh.

Although she sometimes feels alone, or tired, or lost – despite being supported in her own home by a network of carers and daily visits by my brother – how wonderful to approach one’s 98th birthday with laughter and amusement!

57 thoughts on “Eighty Years On

  1. Wonderful tribute to your mom! I lost both my folks last year, they too persevered through war, hardship, but lived a life of optimism and good humor. Thanks for sharing about your mother, you cheered my day! 😍

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So sweet, Michael – your simple drawing does a great job of telling your mother’s story. How wonderful it is indeed that her character and sense of humour is still shining through.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much for liking my posts Peace and Text/Art. What a lovely drawing of your mother. Such emotion from so few lines. I hate the word sketch that a lot of people use and prefer drawing and I really like your drawings.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Interlude | A Certain Line

  5. Great read. Having a loved parent with dementia is life changing for both patent and child. Its difficult to see the person we remember. As you found sometimes its their humor or smile we hold on to.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I just happened on this poignant post. I worked with people with dementia, and their families, for years, and I recognized her dementia in the portrait, before I read your text. I was thinking that her wonderful sense of the ridiculous may have evolved because of, not in spite of, everything life threw at her. But who knows? In any case, you seem to have come to a generous acceptance of her present state – in 2016 – and I know very well how hard that is to settle on. (I love “reality is something of a sliding scale” – made me smile!).


    • Thank you so much for your kind comments. I’m sure you were a great comfort and help to your patients and their families.

      You’re probably right about her sense of the ridiculous being because of what happened to her. Sadly she died in 2017, but remains in our hearts and thoughts still.


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