17 May 2016

My Mother Ray 1922 - 2016

I knew her for 71 years.  After such a long acquaintance, I should remember a lot of things about her but I don’t remember nearly as much as I should.  To me, she was a loving, kind and gentle soul with never a bad word for anyone.  That she loved me most dearly, all of her life, is beyond doubt.  Yet she was never a demonstrative person, and never hugged me or let me hug her back in the way that my children hug me.  A “ma-ma” kiss on each cheek was the most she would tolerate.   There was a certain reserve about her that is hard to define but she had a lovely sense of humour.

Whatever she did, she did well.  She was a superb cook and knew many top chefs personally, mainly because my father and her frequented most of the top restaurants.  She even developed recipes for a canning company that appeared on the canned food labels as “Suggested Serving.”  She loved to entertain and have dinner parties, which were always done with true finesse.   Her dinner table, set with crystal, silver and bone china was a sight to behold. 

In her earlier years she was a very accomplished P.A.  Her typing word rate was so high that Hermes had to specially modify one of their electric typewriters for her use.  She worked alongside the chief executives of Sidney Clow & Co, the Chrysler concessionaires,  Warner Foundation Garments which later became Berkshire Hosiery, and Tollman Hotels, who built the Sandton Sun and Towers in SA., all of whom became life-long friends.

Ray was passionate about the orient, and had a particular fondness for the Japanese culture.  So much so that the house that my parents built in Craighall had an oriental roof line, with turned-up corners.  The house was named Hay Ling Chow.  Ray believed that she had been a Japanese lady in an earlier life.  Considering that a lot of the un-learned details of Japanese culture came naturally to her, I could believe her.  She travelled frequently to Hong Kong and Japan. 

Ray was fiercely loyal to her friends and she was totally devoted to my father through 71 years of marriage.  She was also devoted to her sister Pat, who was taken from us 30 years ago, and she was a devoted grandmother to my children, who all have rich and loving memories of her.  Most of all, she was my friend.    I will miss her.


London, May 13th 2016.