Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Perfect Lady

I am remembering the French doors leading from the verandah of the last house I lived in before leaving Kingston, Jamaica (the address of that house provides the name of this blog). The heavy curtains just inside the doors were a gold brocade that my mom also hung at the windows in her "formal" living room.

My mom grew up as one of nine children, and with so many mouths to feed the family didn't have much money. Her dad was a building contractor, her mom a seamstress. But my mom, who shared a room and a bed with two of her five sisters, grew up imagining herself in genteel surroundings. She applied herself to the mastery of social etiquette and teamed it with her unfailing sense of what was appropriate to every situation. Her sisters, all of them very practical and down-to-earth women, used to tease my mom about her impeccable manners and love of afternoon high tea. They told her gently that she was dreaming above her station.

Later, she married a law student, my dad. For an engagement ring, he gave her a letter inviting him to study for the bar at Lincoln's Inn in London. He went on to become an esteemed judge in Jamaica and the Eastern Caribbean, and was knighted in 1987 by the Queen of England. That made my mom officially a lady. The family joked that truly, she had been born to that role and the Queen simply woke up and smelled the coffee. Or rather, the tea.


  1. What a sweet story! Your mother sounds like such an interesting person. I mean, an interesting lady. :)

    I like the background, and if you are reading this, I was able to leave a comment. I think the yellows look warm. Although your "37 Paddington" title at the top is a smidge hard to read.

  2. ellen, yay! the comments work! They didn't the last time I tried blogger in draft. and yes, my mom is a a fascinating lady, and i appreciate more and more the privilege of being raised by her.

  3. Your blog is beautiful! And I'm so honored to see WM on your blogroll. xx

  4. Willow, the honor is all mine. I find your blog and your writing exquisite!

    And thanks so much for clicking the follow button!

  5. It's interesting how people sometimes grow into the lives they later lead. Your mother sounds like she was meant for that life! (And how cool that your dad was knighted by the Queen!)

  6. Steve, will scan the official photo taken that day and add it to this post. just need to make the time!