The morning I started the blog, I wrote about Mum’s love interests, her marriages, and the one man I knew nothing about – Donald Pickup. As I said in the “About” page, there were thousands of words lacking any sort of emotional connection.
By writing in vignettes, I have the luxury of writing about bits and pieces as I feel like I can. I’m not stuck to some linear structure or timeline. Something about Mum’s marriages, her loves, needed my attention, so I decided to revisit it, this time digging deeper.
This was one part of her life that I knew very little about, as in she and I had only a single, short conversation about Donald. Even though I knew so little, I had this strong urge to write about it. I had no issue writing what I knew – how I found out about her first husband. Hint: it involved a book. I knew a chapter could not be teased out of a few hundred words and something nagged at me to go back to the attic.
I went through a plastic container containing old photos and papers and found a scrapbook. While I’ve known about its existence, I had never looked at it. The musty smell and the feel of the fragile pages reminded me how old, how distant this was from me, yet how curious I was to know about it. I looked through the first few pages of telegrams, newspaper announcements of an engagement and their wedding. It was a scrapbook documenting a loving couple planning on a future together. I felt a profound sadness as I thought of Mum so blissfully happy, unaware that it would be short-lived.
Then there were two magazine pictures – each one of a little girl. They were hoping they were pregnant. Looking toward a December birth. A lump began to fill my throat. I regretted not asking more questions, not pushing to understand, yet at the time I got that it was her story to tell – only if she chose to tell. But then in the box of photos from the ladies desk, there was a picture of Mum with Donald holding a baby. I felt sick and energized all at the same time. Who was this mystery baby? My writing became more frantic, filled with questions as I searched for a truth I will never likely get.
I feel as if I am learning about my mother in real time.