This is my mother. The photo was taken in the thirties when she and her girlfriends were "enjoying the war" as young singles in Sydney. It's not as old as Tess's Magpie photo but it does have a double significance this week. Last weekend (15 January) was the tenth anniversary of her passing. We were to gather as a family to mark the day but the floods in Brisbane intervened.
Ironically the image we had used as a metaphor for her life on her funeral card was that of the Brisbane River flowing ever onward. And now here we are, under water.
On the back of the funeral card we had included the recipe for her famed 'Boiled Fruit Cake".
Many have tried and many have failed to reproduce the moist rich flavour which she was able to produce every time. We always suspected that as her parting joke she had surely left out a secret ingredient from the recipe. So, as my tribute to my mother I have, this evening, attempted for the first time, to follow in her boiled fruit cake footsteps. To compensate for the missing secret ingredient I have added, perhaps recklessly, my own additions - which I will share with you not knowing if they will enhance or destroy the masterpiece.
I have dropped in a few pieces of quality dark chocolate; tossed in a handful of blanched almonds and added a half a cupful of almond meal with the flour. Oh, and a dash of rum early in the process - with a whiskey chaser on the side for the cook (irish whiskey of course). The test, as they say, will be in the tasting. The other device she used to fool us was her handwriting which i will leave you to decipher. (I can post a typed recipe if you're interested)
To my mother (written 10 years ago - my mother was a big talker, hence the last line.)
In the photo album with triangular paper corners
You and Clare and Eileen Connolly
Dressed in your hand-stitched pinafores of crepe,
Sepia toned in the rusty colours of the thirties
Off to another dance at the Hyde Park Y
Your faces alive with the fresh expectations of youth.
Sixty years on, in your parting hours
You lay, almost daintily under the bedcovers
Your young girl's frame returned
Your eyes still sparkling with the innocence of an angel
And smilingly, peacefully, you accepted life moment by moment
Generously offering tidbits of memory and sustenance to those around you
Filling the silences with your gentle touch
Reminding us of who we are and where we've come from.
There will be silences when you're gone
More than enough for us to remember you by.
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