This particular blog is about women who rock, and this week I’d like to travel a little closer to home and tell you about Dot, my 92 year old mother. She’s never been a world-shaker, but I think she rocks in her own little way.
Dot’s life didn’t start out too good. Brought up in a very poor household by a single parent for much of her childhood, Dot was knocked down by a motorbike at three years old. The resultant injury to her left leg caused osteomyelitis, an infection in the bone. There were no antibiotics in 1927, and Dot ended up in hospital encased in plaster for over a year due to various operations that needed to be performed on the leg. Her brother and my grandmother were not allowed to visit in case it upset Dot, and so my mum saw nobody from her family for a very long time. When her leg eventually came out of plaster and she was allowed home, her left leg was a couple of inches shorter than the right.
A lover of music and creative writing, once home Dot taught herself to play the piano using an old piano that her father bought for her on one of his infrequent trips home. She then became the life and soul of every East End party and get-together, never learning to read or write music, but always being able to play a song by just listening to it. At school she won prizes for her stories, and thankfully passed down her love of words and music to me. Even today she can still play songs on a piano that she knows well.
The next upset to befall Dot’s teenage years was World War II. Aged 16 in 1940, she taught herself to touch-type and carried on working as an office clerk all throughout the war, dodging the buzz bombs and watching the destruction of the East End of London all around her. When a bomb went off near to the flat where she lived with my grandmother, their front room windows imploded and the shock caused the onset of pneumonia. Undaunted, Dot survived the war, attending dances with her friends where she met and fell in love with a Lindsay Lawson from the American Navy. When Lindsay went back to the US, Dot was heartbroken (she even asked me to try and find him a few years back, but I never had any luck unfortunately), but eventually recovered from this setback and married my dad, John, in 1952. They had me, their only child, 6 years later.
Dot and John were happy enough until cancer took my dad in 1977. After John’s death Dot declared that one man had been enough for her, and that she would never marry again. She never did. After I left home in 1979 Dot began to learn to drive, eventually passing her driving test at the age of 56. With this new found freedom Dot began to enjoy her sixties, attending dances with girl friends as she had done in her youth. She allowed a few male companions to take her out to the cinema and to dinner, but that was as far as it went. She became fiercely independent, and over the subsequent near 40 year stretch since Dad’s death up to the present day, she has maintained her independence, still living alone and doing things for herself at the age of 92. She hates asking me to do anything for her, and I only do what I’m asked to do. When Dot needs more help, I know she’ll ask for it.
However, somehow I don’t think she ever got over Lindsay Lawson’s return to the US. You never forget your first love, and Dot hasn’t forgotten hers, even though over 70 years have gone by. If any of my US friends have any idea where I could find out more about war-time American Naval personnel, do let me know. Dot is 92 and Mr Lawson may not even be alive now, but wouldn’t it be great if he was!