Thursday, 10 January 2008

The Pink French Lace Negligee Set

There came a day in April 2000 after the funeral service that I had to sort through my late mother’s effects which was something I had always dreaded. I could never imagine my life without my mother because we were too close because of all the hardships we suffered and survived. I will always be haunted by the tormented memory of my mother dying in my arms. This is a life experience I would never recommend to anyone who cares too much.

My mother had never been well and when I was ten years of age she came very close to dying. Somehow I nursed her back to a reasonable state of health which on hindsight amazes me. How can a child take on such a huge responsibility at such a young age? I looked over all of my mother’s clothes and I realised that her fashion statements would never fit me. I took these items to a charity shop and left them with an overwhelming sense of regret. The item I could never part with was the pink French nylon/lace negligee set that seemed to me to be a very personal fetish object of infinity for my late mother. This set consists of a Grecian-style pink nylon negligee with a slip and matching sheer robe adorned with French lace.

It was very early in the morning so I was not expecting to see anyone because most of the tenants were shift workers. I decided on impulse to freshen up the negligee set and I washed these items in Lux flakes in one of the concrete troughs in the laundry. I was very afraid my mother’s negligee set would disintegrate because of the age of these fabrics. Strangely enough the negligee set washed up as new and I placed the wringing wet garments on two padded coat hangars on the clothesline in the shade. Sometimes I remember an embittered fragment of time whispering from my past about how I foolishly wished for the happiness of the two people dearest to my heart.

My mother’s divorce from her fourth husband was now legal and there was now the opportunity for a lifetime of happiness. My mother was dressed very plainly in a cream linen dress, crocheted blue gloves and brown leather platform shoes to give her height. My mother’s first ex-husband the Admiral was understated in a white summer uniform and for once he was smiling. There was a candy-striped box with a pink ribbon tied into an enormous bow. He told my mother he had especially traveled to Paris to acquire this pink French lace negligee set. He had also had a metal trunk with ‘USS Saratoga’ painted on the side.

There is a saying that sometimes you should hold your tongue which regrettably was not the case for my big daddy who was well known for his outbursts. His unfortunate remark that my mother was "not disciplined unlike most of his naval personal in the seventh fleet”. My mother's reply was that “the only thing that was disciplined in the house was the cotton in her linen dress” which was in fact made from an experimental form of paper material from Sweden. The Admiral glared at my mother and without a word stormed out of the house and ran up the Old Mill Road, Capalaba, Queensland carrying the trunk. This was the last time I ever saw him in the flesh and these two extremely stubborn people choose not to speak to each other for over twenty-four years.

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