It is time for another Lost and Found.
I found this photograph of my mother a few years ago, while looking through her old clothes and making space in the wardrobe, and it now lives on my office desk. It was in an old shoebox with a stack of other pictures of her, my father, and me as a baby, as well as other pictures of friends, some of whom I have never met, and a few pictures of my fathers' old girlfriends, from long before he had even met my mother.
I am pretty sure that the picture was taken in the seventies, before I was born, or if not, then when I was very little. I cannot remember the wallpaper, although I remember the bright orange coffee set well. My father still has the china cabinet in the corner of the room and the candleholders, but the monstrosity of an armchair, foisted upon my parents by my grandmother, is long gone.
I love this photograph, so obviously a snapshot. It captures a moment in time that is irretrievable because of its very ordinariness. Where was the picture taken, what was the occasion? Was it a Sunday morning breakfast or late at night?
My mother died of cancer more than seven years ago, but there is not a day when I don't think of her. One of my most vivid memories of her is seeing her walk through the garden in spring, one day when she was already ill, taking in the changes in nature, and sometimes stopping to gently touch and prise open fresh leaves and flowers, admiring their texture and shape, tightly curled in on themselves, waiting to unfurl. As she got weaker and was not able to venture far, she took pleasure from the smallest things around her, reigning in her attention to focus on the detail of the things we so often take for granted, on the minuscule and the texture and beauty of everyday life.
My mother taught me to see the world around me in a different way, to pay attention and to treasure the small and seemingly insignificant, the magical in the ordinary and mundane.