Losing a mother is a pain that cannot be described in words. It is impossible to move on completely from the memory of losing the woman who sacrificed happiness in her own life so that I could have a better one. I lost my Maman on May 22, 2015.
My mother was born in 1933, to a poor, working class family in Wattrelos, northern France. She lived her childhood during the war. Her father was a prisoner of war and she was sent to live with a family in Dordogne, in St Foi La Grande for a year. Can you imagine how scary it must have been, a 8 year old child, placed all by yourself on a train and sent off to total strangers. But, that turned out to be the happiest year of my mother’s life. And she spoke of it frequently, we visited the area and now I am moving there permanently in 4 days. Life goes full circle. My mother had a very hard life but never complained. She had to leave school, which she loved, at 12 to start work in a textile mill and help support the family. She moved at 17 with her family to South Africa to find a better life and worked her way up from a pattern maker to a fashion designer to production director in the women’s apparel industry. She opened her own factory, supported her mother and provided for me. My father left soon after my birth. So as a single mom, she managed to provide a great life for me. We travelled to all parts of the world, did many safaris and she instilled in me my love of cooking. Maman was a great cook. Her dream had always been to retire in France, preferably in the Dordogne, but unfortunately that was not to be. The South African rand devalued tremendously and she suffered from excruciating arthritis that made it impossible for her to travel for the last 10 years. She struggled so stoically with her pains, never complaining to the very end. I will scatter her ashes in the Dordogne and so she will be able to be in France forever.
Maman, je t’aime.