My mother died 20 years ago today. She was the girl in the front in the picture above - and the oldest girl of the two. My aunt died six years ago, and her oldest brother (on the right) died 31 years ago. Of the four, only her older brother (on the left) remains. I'm not exactly sure when the above picture was taken - there's no date on it, but if my mother was approximately 10 years old, her sister would have been nine, and the boys would have been 12 and 13.
They were a very close knit family. Her father died when my aunt was only 5 months old. My grandmother never remarried because she was afraid that if she did the children might be abused and she would have no recourse. Such was life in the 1930s. Instead, she put all four children in an orphanage and went off to find work. When she was settled with a job and a place to live, she sent for them (I think it was two years later). Needless to say, it was not an easy life.
Despite the hardships, my mother and her siblings grew up and prospered. I think my mother was the only one of the four who didn't finish college. That didn't stop her from being well read and fearless when it came to exploring new places. As a military wife, she had ample opportunity to do so.
I also remember her as being willing to sit down on the floor and play with me when I was small, the times she danced to the music on the radio while cleaning house, or sang along. She loved music and played classical piano and cello.
She also didn't do my teachers any favors when she taught me to read, write, add, subtract, multiply, and divide before I ever started kindergarten. It made for a few not-so-good school years before they finally skipped me a grade. Then we moved. They were probably glad to see the last of me. By the time I was at the next school, I had figured out that flaunting what I knew wasn't a good thing, so I settled down.
I got my love of romance from her. She was a Barbara Cartland addict. My Dad occasionally joked that he was going to file for divorce and name the grand dame as the "other woman" in the complaint. It didn't faze my Mom in the least and when the writing bug hit me, it was the Regency genre I turned to for inspiration. I still love those old stereotyped "innocent" heroines who reform the "jaded-rake" hero. A lot of what I write is the same. After my Mom's death, my aunt and I used to joke that we should write a romance - but we never did. Now, much of what I write is written with both of them in mind. In fact, my current WIP's heroine is named for Mom. And, I'm already planning a second book with a heroine named for my aunt.
It's been a long 20 years - and my sisters and I have missed Mom every single day. My children have no memory of her - my daughter was too young and my son wasn't born until the next year - but they have heard all the stories.
Finally, in keeping with this tribute to my Mom, I'll leave you with her favorite song. It still makes me tear up, but it's a well-loved song. Enjoy!