Words: Shirley Erasmus
Photographs: Erasmus Family Album
My mother passed away when I was very young; my favourite pictures of her are ones I have of her and my dad on their wedding day, laughing into the camera as they leave the church. They don’t look afraid. My mother and father seem to be walking directly towards their future. There is naturally no way that either of them would know that a few years later I would be born, and merely a year later my father would become a single parent.
When I think of their wedding day, I see the pictures in black and white, even though colour images of them of on their wedding day are available. The black and white quality of the images in my mind, give the day a certain element of timelessness. My mother wears a pink dress and white shoes and my dad wears a smart grey suit. I often wonder about these choices. Why she chose to wear Pink instead of the typical white dress – and why my father wears a handsome no doubt – but grey suit. Surely they weren’t the counter- culture, love birds they seem to be?
My mother was one of the first women in a management position at Standard Bank, where she met my dad. Yet she wears flowers in her hair, whimsical and beautiful, but she still looks firm, decided and ready. My dad looks beside himself with joy. He’s marrying the love of his life on this day – a day which is now immortalised in those pictures.
Since these pictures are some of the few memories I have of my mother before her identity became inextricably linked to mine and mine to hers; I often look back at these images and try to imagine what she would tell me if she could. The person I see in the pictures is happy, strong and brave. I imagine she would tell me to be the same. I imagine she would tell me that it’s okay to wear pink as often as possible- and even on my wedding day. She would also tell me to make flower crowns and to boldly wear shoes that don’t match with the rest of my outfit!
I imagine she would tell me to look boldly into my future, even if I can’t see it clearly and even when I don’t feel brave.