My Mother by Mattie Wall
For the past ten years Mattie has been “a hired gun”, working for the University of Auckland and elsewhere, utilising her skills and experience wherever they can be useful. She enjoys her life to the full and hopes to remain curious and interested in people and the world, to never lose her capacity for wonder and to always be open to the miracles and mystery of serendipity.
My mother Phyll, (christened “Phyllis” which she loathed), was the “white sheep” of a mining family in south Wales. Unlike her siblings, she was petite with fine features, a long neck, slim legs and elegant hands — always with bright red, manicured nails.
My mother had unerring good taste, but where her eye for beauty came from, I can’t imagine. None of her siblings whom I met shared her aesthetic sense. As a young post-War bride, arriving from London to the dreary little wooden houses with tin roofs clinging to the steep slopes of Lyttelton, she created a home just over the Port Hills, in Sumner, of warmth, grace and style — mostly by combing the dusty second-hand shops of Sydenham.
Always immaculately dressed, usually in clever bargains found in sales, she wore hats with a jaunty air that belied her lack of confidence. She was also a very good money manager, as my father grudgingly said, in one of his rare acknowledgements of my mother’s positive qualities.
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