This morning my Mum and Dad and I drove over to Liverpool to see my Auntie Doris. The visit was long overdue (I haven't seen her since Grandad's Funeral in January). As well as a social call it was a research session to plan a forthcoming residency at Lena Simic and Gary Anderson (TwoAddThree)'s Institute for the Art and Practice of Dissent at Home, run out of their Everton address.
Earlier this year I applied with a proposal called 'Several Stories', a two day residency using The Institute as a base to explore the streets on which my Grandma and Grandad lived, an act of mourning for some much-loved relatives. I was accepted and am due to undertake the residency next Monday and Tuesday (15th / 16th), prior to Kings of England's BAC show on the 18th. Not strictly a Kings project, the residency will nonetheless explore notions of family, time, the performance of memory and forgetting.
It was good to see Doris. She is now in her eighties, a widow. She survives her son John who died in 1991 in a road accident.
One thing I will always remember about her is that at Grandad's funeral she was the life of the party, quick to joke and smile, obviously sad but brave with it too. I was considered too young to go to John's funeral but Mum said she was exactly the same at his, too.
Said that not a day goes by that she and her friend Shirley don't think of him, meaning my Grandad. We looked though three albums, she said she got rid of the rest, that nobody was interested. And she said that Paul, her grandson, has got mad at her when she told him she has ripped up the photos. I said, as kindly as I could, that I would have been mad at her too. She showed us the three remaining albums, pictures of my mother aged 6, 9, 13, 16, that I had never seen before. She looked like a fierce child, or perhaps just impatient. But the photographs confirmed what I have always thought, that two lives might not be enough for her. We looked at the picture of Doris in her wedding dress, all the family around, and she said: "Everyone in that picture is dead except for the children. And me".
Visiting Grandad was a part of their weekly routine. He used to say "You girls been to any wild parties lately?" He'd say it every week. And Doris said "I'd say: Ollie, if only. Our wild parties were years ago", and she gave a little shimmy in her chair, reminding us that she is still a dancer. Then she said: "That's one thing I'll say about 'round here. You don't hear any parties. If there was one I'd probably knock on the door. Ask to come in".
Doris, thank-you. You made my day. x x