Twenty years ago this month, my Mama passed away. My parents were living in Cape Town where Mama was unexpectedly diagnosed with liver cancer, and she died twelve weeks later. She was 59 and I was 29. It was an extremely tough time for our family, and the hardest and most devastating moments of my life. Two decades later, and time does not heal the wounds that are created when you lose a parent you were very close to. But time does help you process your feelings, manage your emotions, and give you the gift of empathy so that you can comfort and support those who have experienced a similar sense of loss.
On the one hand, it feels like a lifetime ago that Mama was alive and I could speak with her. My memories of Mama are fading, and our family doesn’t talk about her much these days. Life without her feels normal. On the other hand, it feels like yesterday that she passed away. My fondest memories of Mama are as vivid as ever, and I think of her and miss her every single day.
I dedicate a post to my late Mum every year, because she was the reason I took an interest in fashion and style. Her immaculate and authentic sense of style and gorgeous polish was an inspiration to me as a child, teen and young adult. Mama was well turned out wherever she went, but never precious about it. She did not let her dressy and glam exterior get in the way of her affection for dogs, horses, and the garden. Mama could muck out stables with the best of them, garden all day, and would happily snuggle with the dogs and be covered in pet hair. She did this elegantly adorned with chunky gold jewellery, make-up, perfume, styled hair, well-groomed hands and feet, glowing skin, beautifully fitting earth-toned clothes, and very comfortable shoes. A stylish role model through and through.
This is a photo of Mama back in the ‘70s, and the one that my Dad keeps next to his bed. My uncle spontaneously took it at a family get-together in the Netherlands, and it became a favourite because this is JUST how she looked, and how I remember her the most clearly.
Mama was also the person who believed in me when I changed my career path from Psychology to Fashion. If it wasn’t for my Mama’s support at age 22, I might not have made the switch. And if I think back now this seems unfathomable. She was dead right about what was best for her daughter, and I am forever grateful.
Words cannot adequately express how much I appreciate the unconditional love and support Mama gave me for the 29 years we had together. In a strange way, I feel like Mama lives on through YLF because she was instrumental to it. That in itself is comforting, despite the fact that she cannot be here to enjoy today’s fashion and style with our community.
We at YLF wish you, your Mums, including Mums who are no longer with us, a happy and peaceful Mother’s Day.