REMEMBERING JOAN ABSE


David Abse

My mother was a lot of things to a lot of people. She was a political activist, a campaigner for peace, an art historian, a writer. She was a friend, she was a wife, she was a grandmother. But to me, Keren and Susanna, she was our mum. When I was a kid my mum used to wake me every morning saying “Uppy uppy little puppy” and “Wakey wakey little snakey”. She even did this when I returned home in my 20s to Golders Green for a while after leaving college.

Mum used to sing silly songs to herself. Susanna and I once set up a tape recorder when we were living in Princeton to catch her singing “hey little hen, when when when will you lay me an egg for my tea”.

Mum was nice to everyone and could see the positive side in anything. If you stepped on dog shit it was a sign of good luck.

Mum loved children. She loved her own children and her children’s children. She never lost the ability to play. She would love playing games with her grandchildren, and was incredibly tolerant, tender and patient.

Mum loved the cats she and my dad had. Tuesday when I was a kid, and Blackchin later and of course Caitlin who she and dad loved for many years. Mum would buy Caitlin expensive fish from Sainsburys, and then would cook it for her. When Caitlin discovered she liked to drink from the bath Mum would run it for her.

Sad things upset my mum, she hated seeing the evil things that people did to each other, and did what she thought was right, and gave to charity to help anything and anyone that touched her. She gave her time and effort to CND. She gave money to charities that help children she gave money to charities that promoted peace and fought to defeat poverty. She was a pain to take to football matches, as she’d always feel sorry for the team losing, even on the rare occasions when it wasn’t Cardiff City. This would drive me and my dad crazy.

My mum was kind, clever, and wise. She listened. Her parents gave her admirable values which I know we all as her children try to carry forward. I’m proud of my mother’s heritage and how it has been passed on when I see my son recently independently going on a young people’s march for peace.

I still hear my mum’s voice. I can still hear her advice. Her voice in my head is the sane, sensible, loving part of me. The more kind, tolerant part. I miss my mum.

 
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