My first meeting with my mother in law Rosemarie Williams, was fraught with embarrassment. On my part at least. I had met up with my then boyfriend and some other friends in central London, it got late, and as I lived in North London and he lived in South, he suggested I came back to his house. In those pre mobile phone days there was no way of communicating this information to his mother before we got back to Wallington where he lived at around midnight. Being a bloke, of course, it didn't occur to him to use a public phone.
So we arrived back at his house and apart from feeling excruciatingly shy and nervous, I was mortified when my future mother in law, without batting an eye went and sorted out my bed. Already in her sixties then, it was probably the last thing she needed, but being both eminently practical and generous of heart, she welcomed me with open arms.
If truth be known, those welcoming arms were not always so welcome to me. I was young and probably intolerant, but I'd also been brought up in a more relaxed less intense kind of family. So Rosemarie's kindness and generosity, coupled with a determination which meant she failed to see where I was coming from was at times overwhelming.
It took a long long time to get the point where we are now, but I'm grateful that in the end we have found ourselves in a place of great affection, and love. Without a doubt, she is the most inspirational person I have ever met in my life. Though life has thrown affliction and trials that I cannot even comprehend in her way, she has always risen above it, and maintained a positive and happy attitude whatever the situation. She has taught me about courage and conviction, she has shown me how to be happy with simple things, and above all she has always given me her love, freely and generously, even if at times I was churlish in its acceptance.
Now she is dying, there is a lot I want to write about. And I will probably be doing that privately, away from here. But for a long long time I have wanted to write the story of her life, but I'm not a biographer, and lack the patience and time for writing non fiction properly. But yesterday, I decided to post a story about Rosemarie meeting Louis Armstrong after the war on my other blog, and finally I had found my way in.
So this is where I will be writing about the stories Rosemarie has told me over the years. Please bear in mind they are memories, and may be incomplete, or slightly skewed as memories invariably are. I haven't always had time to write down the stories as they've been told to me, so sometimes my versions might not be wholly true. But I hope at least the spirit is truthful, and I cannot think of a better way to celebrate my wonderful mother in law's remarkable life.