Saturday 20 April 2019

Annie Wilson Lee nee Ross

Over the last few months I have been starting my day by doing some writing. It’s a way to focus my thoughts. Sometimes the words are stream of consciousness, usually its a time to plan or reflect. Occasionally the writing is a place to vent. 

This morning was different, April 20th was my mother’s birthday - she would have been 108 today so memories of her were strong. After writing in my journal, I decided that I would share these memories with you. She was always my staunch supporter, she encouraged my art and approved of everything I tried. The epitome of unconditional love.

Annie Wilson Ross, known always as Nancy, was a very special person - kind, generous and talented in many skills. I think of all those crocheted tablecloths that many family members still have and use. I can still see her sitting in her favourite arm chair (I’m sitting in the same chair as I write this) hands busy with the crochet hook as she fashioned each separate medallion. These were later sewn together to make huge tablecloths. 

When we lived in Kokstad, South Africa, I remember her making and icing wedding cakes. These were decorated with elaborate roses, leaves and trellis work all made with fine lines of Royal icing piped on to tracing paper and left to dry before being carefully added to the cake. Usually these had three tiers - how I wish a had a photograph of one of these to show you!

A rare photo of Nancy with her hair down. This was taken on board ship dressed up for a fancy dress which she and my Father won. 

Nancy was feisty too, and didn’t suffer fools. She would often return from a meeting (she served on a number of committees) exasperated by something or someone.

She loved arranging flowers, but soon found herself working as an organiser of flower shows ensuring the smooth running of these rather than doing the arrangements. She was a good person to have on a committee because she was a worker and would simply get things done. 

In her younger years, she was an expert marksman and later played a mean game of golf - I have a number of her silver teaspoons - trophies from various tournaments.

For as long as I can remember she had the same hairstyle - swept off her face in waves and always an “up” style. I can’t imagine her any other way.

I was one of three children, the afterthought, a third child after almost ten years. I’ll never really know if I was a ‘mistake’ or not but I was made to feel special and was very close to my mother. 

Nancy was a star baker. My children, wisely, would turn to her not me when they needed cakes for school. Her fruit cakes were sublime, and cheese muffins were melt-in-the-mouth good. She even indulged my father by laboriously making him green mango atchar (she never ate it) which he and I would enjoy. I still have her recipe book although I have had to rewrite some of the recipes because they were more like quick notes and a little short on detail. 

After Dad passed away, she continued to live with us in the Granny flat we had built for them the previous year. Nancy remained with us until her death in 1996. In all that time I do not recall ever being at odds with her. She was always there for the whole family, a constant kind and loving presence. 

Twenty three years on and I still miss her terribly. 

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