First of all, I don't know for sure who the photographer was. The subjects are my mother, my brother and my brother's daughter and the occasion was London Sister's summer wedding in North London, twelve years ago. You wouldn't think it to look at the photographs but Matty was feeling poorly that day. It turned out she had shingles which was affecting her face. She was very stoic about it and did not succumb to complaint until she was back home.
That was Matty all over, a bit of a hypochondriac at times, she whinged about the little things, a hack on her thumb, a touch of cramp, but she could be remarkably brave about the big things. I'll never forget the day she received her terminal cancer diagnosis. The house was full, lots of us around, everyone shocked and filled with faint dread and yet, there was Matty apparently enjoying all the attention.
I sat down beside her on the sofa and squeezed her arm,
How are you doing Mammy?
She turned to me with a very open expression on her face and said,
Och, sure I always wondered how I would die!
Not the answer I was expecting at all.
People often say after someone dies from cancer that they 'lost a battle, bravely fought'. Well, Matty didn't fight at all, she just got on with it. She was brave, though.