Happy Birthday, Mama

Today would have been her 93rd birthday. In this photo, taken on her little sister’s fiftieth, she was fifty six.

That smile remained with her to the end. I can’t remember the actual sound of her laugh, I’ve just realised, but the smile is unforgettable. And she smiled a lot. That radiant lipstick. Dior no 30 I seem to remember – always the same – she was well known in the Dior counter in Bentalls – one of their best customers, I imagine, she resisted change to her maquillage in any way.

Her makeup bag was not big, but always had the same contents. Only her eyeshadow was not Dior. That was Clinique. A lovely sage green. I tried to buy some last week. They don’t make it any more, surprise surprise.

My mother never left the house without makeup. Or not knowingly. She would get up very early in the morning, have a bath and several cups of coffee before she was ready to start her day (she was still working full time when she died) and she would sit in front of the mirror putting her eye make up on. She approached the job with meticulous care. One eye at a time. Liner, shadow, mascara. Then she would go to work.

By bus and tube.

At work it would be time for more coffee with her colleagues and then yet more, and the inevitable cigarettes, as the clients began to saunter in.

A lot just came to talk. She was a good listener.

And then one, more observant than most, noticed something different about my mum. He looked carefully and noticed that her eyes were different. From each other that is. She had left the house without doing the second eye.

When she was recounting the tale of the asymmetrical eye, she realised that the postman had arrived at the door and totally distracted her. And she forgot to finish her face!

She was mortified for a few minutes and then very characteristically ( she had no vanity) laughed it off.

3 comments on “Happy Birthday, Mama

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