Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Legacy X: Mothers and Daughters

Most of the Legacy posts thus far have been written by bloggers I've known for quite some time, but today I'm excited to share this post written by a woman I met just a few weeks ago.  Her blog, Eliza Deacon Photography, has become one of my favorite places to visit.  Visit it to discover stunning images and tales of her life in Africa, and I have a feeling she will charm you, too.  Eliza's Legacy post fills me with awe and not a little wanderlust.  It also speaks straight to my heart.

Written with many thanks to Gigi for letting me tell this story here...and for her encouragement as to the writing of it. 

When I reached the age of 33, it was something of a milestone: my mother had now not been present for more of my life than she had ever been in it. She died when I was 16, had been ill from when I was 13.  At 13 I remember her sitting down with my twin sister and I. I can remember the room we were in and where we were sitting, I even remember how I was sitting, legs tucked up beneath me in a brown armchair. She told us that she had this thing called cancer and that she was going to be away in hospital but that we shouldn’t worry. With the innocence, and ignorance, of a 13-year-old I remember thinking ‘wow, I wonder what that word means, but I can’t wait to tell my friends at school’.

I didn’t think then of how I would cope without a mother, I was too young. But how did I negotiate my way through the rest of my adolescence, my tricky teens, my 20s, 30s and into my 40s?  I did of course, with various crashes and burns, but it’s a loss I’ve always felt. You get over it, you learn to live with it, but it’s always with you isn’t it. Your mother, any parent really, isn’t meant to die when you are 16 and your mother especially not. Aren’t mothers meant to guide you, be something of a blueprint to show and teach you how to be the woman you’re going to become: a girlfriend, wife, lover, friend, mother, adult...all those things that we intrinsically are, but somehow also need to be shown. And whilst you do find your own way, you rather stumble through the complexities of your 20s when oh lord, how on earth do you know who you are meant to be when you really have no real idea where to start!

My mother was the most amazing woman: she was born and grew up a barefoot jungle child in India, she rode horses as a cowboy on the Colorado plains, she became a top model in the swinging London 60s scene, and she was a Bond girl in the original Casino Royale (the one without Daniel Craig!). I know now what I didn’t know then, that she often had a far-off look; she gave up many of her dreams when she – not unhappily, I hasten to add – settled down. But I think she still yearned for distant horizons and that never went away. 

As soon as I could, I started to travel with an ignorance is bliss attitude, a sort of ‘I want to do this because I want to know how it feels’ attitude. I discovered it very quickly, in war zones and far-flung places. I wanted to be able to look back and say what an incredible time it all was. And yes it was, I was very lucky. I think my life, whilst not the same as hers, was set on a charted course to somehow follow hers yet on a different parallel. Exploring, finding new horizons, new adventures, and in the process learning more about myself and the person I would become. Knowing the synergy of our lives makes me very happy; it’s also the knowledge that she would love my African life, this crazy and wonderful continent I’ve lived on for the past 16 years. 
I don’t have children, and am unlikely to now. It could be an overwhelming thought, if I let it, to know that I won’t share that mother-daughter bond that I experienced so briefly. But I don’t dwell, I figure that things have turned out ok and I don’t want regrets. Life sends you on strange tangents and I can’t imagine any other than this one; one that I know she will always be very much a part of. 


  1. Thank you so much Gigi for this beautiful new read

  2. Gigi~
    A wanderlust which I know oh so well...Eliza touched my heart and gypsy yearnings with every word she wrote/shared.
    Leave it to you to always offer and introduce us to the beautiful souls of this world.

  3. Eliza lovely to meet you. This was a beautiful story to tell and so terribly sad that you lost your mother so young. Life is like that unfortunately, side by side are loss, happiness, peace and turmoil.

    It sounds as if you found yourself and your way in life.

    Thank you darling Gigi,
    xoxo DJ

  4. What a painfully sad yet beautiful story.

    I am struck by the way in which your, Eliza's, life and the way you experience the world were so similar to your mother's. That even though her physical presence was taken from you at such a young age, there is a spirit, a way of living that transcended her death.


  5. Thank you Gigi for another wonderful entry into your Legacy series. I had the wonderful pleasure of "meeting" Eliza when she commented on my legacy post and I was blown away by her blog subject and writing (and told her so). I would have to say that her gorgeous mother left her legacy well-tended when she left at such a young have immmense talent Eliza and depth and your mother would be blissfully happy indeed to see how you are living out your life. It sounds like she is right there beside you each step of the way. Much love and a beautiful mother-daughter post. XO

  6. Eliza - thank you for the whole story; I'd heard it in bits & snippets, hints left here & there, but had no idea. Your mother would love this, would be so happy with your life, with you. I'm sure she's smiling now.

    Gigi - thank you for giving Eliza the room to spread out with this tale. xoxo


  7. Gigi,
    I just wanted to let you know that when your feed pops up on my reader I smile . There are a few blogs that just make me feel good inside when I read them and yours is one of them.

  8. A story of two lives well lived.
    Such an inspiration.

  9. Gigi-What a wonderful story to read.

    Eliza-as someone who just lost her mother a few months ago, I find it hard to imagine what it would have been like had I been only 16. I was lucky enough to have my mother much longer and yet the loss has completely shaken me to my core. You speak of her with love and honesty, you made me curious to know more about her...a Bond Girl? How cool is that. Your writing touched my heart and I know she would be very proud.

  10. Thank you for this. As someone who was parted from her mother at the age of fourteen months I can tell you that your mother is always with you, but you know that don't you?

  11. Thanks for this story, it hit home with me as a Mother. Eliza has a beautiful structured face.
    Her mother must have had an exotic look also.
    The Children without Mothers long for them, and the ones with living parents never listen to them anyway.LOL


  12. What a beautiful inspiring story, thank you for introducing us to Eliza, dear Gigi!! Warm hugs! xxoo :)

  13. thank you all so much for your words - and for making me feel so welcome here :)

    i am my mother's daughter and that makes me so happy. it all sort of came together as i hit my 40s, and i know the life i've lived has so much to do with her. i seem to have 'adopted' a lot of mothers along the way and that has helped hugely in times when i've needed that. she will always be with me though, part of me, who i's a very good thought.

    yvonne, that is my mother in the top picture - sadly not me :). i have her entire modeling portfolio but that picture reminds me most of her, as i remember her.

    thank you all again, eliza

  14. This post truly, truly touched me...It is fascinating to read of lives so completely different from the one I have led... and yet the mother/daughter bond is always present...

    Thank you for introducing me to Eliza and her blog...What a wonderful site!

  15. a beautiful, poignant story of love and loss and living. i always love your writing,, and now i am in awe of your story.

  16. fascinating and lovely the love for a mother and child. also the impact she had to create a beautiful daughter with wonderlust.

  17. I feel such tuggings, such wanderlust. How wonderful to meet another kindred spirit.

  18. What a beautiful story. Her mother was quite an amazing woman.I can't imagine being without a mother at 16. So tragic.

  19. Amazing...the blogosphere is such a wonderful place...we can know we aren't alone in our sadness, live vicariously through those we follow and know there are reasons to 'live'...


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