On the release of Darkly Wood II this week I thought this appropriate to reblog for my cover girl who will be 92 this May
The beautiful girl on the cover of my latest book is my partner’s mother Joan. Affectionately known to all as Jomammy, she was 21 when this photo was taken on Dollymount strand in Dublin in 1946. This week Jomammy turns 90. What a wonderful achievement to have lived so long and to still be, for the most part independent.
Her upcoming birthday made me consider how she has become invisible to so many people in so many situations. Many people ignore her as though she doesn’t exist. Her failing hearing does not help, as it makes it difficult to have a conversation with her sometimes. I say difficult not impossible and it doesn’t excuse people for not making the effort. Sometimes she repeats stories that we have all heard a million times but don’t we all. When she tells me something I have heard fifty times, I ask a different question about her story and I am always surprised that she will often squeeze out a new interesting memory. It doesn’t take much.
I’m a long way from 90 but I’m no spring chicken either. My fade has already begun. Once I turned the young ladies heads, now they see past me. Not that I need their attention but the change is striking and it reminds me that we all grow old…if we are lucky enough. I know I will become less important, less relevant, less interesting to people around me. I wish it wasn’t so but when I look at Jomammy and how people almost without thought can fail to see the woman beneath the grey hair, I know it is true.
The photo of her on my cover is a reminder that she was once a vibrant, sexy young woman, with suitors, friends and admirers. In her head I have no doubt she is not the 90 year old woman who peeks back from her mirror.
So in this short blog I have a simple wish. That wish is that as you go through your day, when you meet an older person that perhaps you might normally see straight through, take a moment and consider this. The person you see has a life story and the person you pass has value and what they have to share, may enhance your life if only you take a moment to stop, care, listen and engage them in conversation. Someday it may well be you that fades away into the background.