We knew that the more you can take people out of poverty, the more choices you have which is why we wanted to help Holly out. We wanted her to have peace, happiness and options. Our reading and research on world history has shown that poverty is a breeding ground for all kinds of terrorism and all kinds of violence, because it breeds frustration. My friends, Minnie and I have talked about this subject a lot at dinner parties, that we are strange species, that we can be tremendously nurturing and at the same time so violent and torturous. Rosy and I were brought up and encouraged to always ask questions. Some dinner parties lasted until the early hours of the morning because we would get on the most fascinating topics and have incredibly erudite discussions that mattered, like God, spirituality, religion, philosophy, the importance of understanding cause and effect, “the law of attraction”, science, the Arts, women’s rights, feminism, politics and as we got older, ageing and lifestyle came into the equation. We also all agreed how resilient the human race is and so creative.
Scientists say that the human species will live to be a couple of million more years. Now we are a couple of hundred thousand years. Where will we be in that time? I remember reading somewhere that we are not born to understand this. Science gives it to us. Evidence with anything is the key. Sometimes, I wished I had studied physics and the theory of everything. I don’t know enough physics and maths to understand it. But, I do think it is the key to my existence. I marvel at it all.
Holly was such a sweet young lady that we offered a room in our house for as long as she cared to live with us. She looked so cute in her round gold glasses, freckles on her nose, and soft, shiny chestnut hair. We often told her how pretty she was. She worked and saved just about all she earned for her future and both Minnie and I were very proud of her, like she was a daughter. She even made us some dresses, each with the prettiest fabric and she cooked delicious meals always flavoured with garlic, ginger and spices and she always like to make a huge sponge cream cake with strawberries for afters. She especially loved to cook when we had friends over and she became fast friends with our friends and even had many come to the fashion house for fittings for new clothes, which went down well with the senior designers of the fashion house, whom some were friends of both Minnie and I. The director of the fashion house was so pleased with Holly that she promoted her after just a few months as Head Seamstress.
After about three months of working there, she went on her first date since her husband had died, with a man whom she met at the nearby cafe where she sometimes went for lunch or tea after she finished work.
I remember that day well, as she must have changed her dress at least ten times. His name was Clancy and when he called on Holly to pick her up, we noticed he was very tall with dark, strong features and was quite glamorous to look at. As he waited in the living room for Holly to come down, we chatted with him and found out that he worked as a lawyer, but loved to write in his spare time and was currently writing his first crime novel.
We could of talked to him all night, as he was fascinating to listen to as he talked about his job and his favourite past times and was lovely to look at, as Minnie often remarked afterwards.
Holly entered the room in a cherry swing cotton halter neck dress, cut at the knee with shoes and bag to match. Her hair had recently be cut and hung beautifully on her shoulders. Minnie and I saw Clancy’s reaction and he was literally dumbstruck. As they left in his red Buick, we couldn’t help but look at each other and say how gorgeous they looked together and that Clancy did look pretty smitten. We were excited for the both of them.
Shortly after arriving, we told Holly that her daughter was welcome to stay with us too and to contact the department to arrange it. We felt the department took their sweet time, but I think they wanted to make sure that Holly was in a good job for a good deal of time and had a happy home to provide for her. Holly had told us that Daisy was about to turn five, so we all had a lot of fun decorating the room for Daisy. Holly chose yellow and green striped curtains with daisies splashed about the material and Rosy had a single gold brass bed that she didn’t want, so she and her husband James came over one day with the bed for Daisy. We bought a floral bedspread and there was already a thick, red round rug which suited the room well. All the wooden floors had polished floorboards, as that is the way Minnie and I liked it. To our surprise, Rosy also brought the most gorgeous doll house that Lilly used to play with and had grown out of it.
When Social Services arrived that were exceptionally pleased and said that Daisy should be back home with her mother within the week. Holly immediately began to cry and even had us crying too. Daisy had been with the foster family for just over six months and it was a true blessing when we saw her reunited with her mother once again.
Daisy had chestnut hair too, with brown eyes just like like Holly. We had a celebration for them both, inviting our parents, Rosy and family, closest friends and friends of Holly from her new job. Even though it was the 1950s we did manage to put on some of our favourite music from the 1920s, 30s and 40s. Some of Holly’s friends loved the music and we gave Charleston lessons to the delight of her friends and they gave us dance lessons in rock and roll. Even little Daisy joined in and I think she preferred to do the Charleston as she giggled so much while she tried to copy us. It was lovely having a little girl in the house and Minnie and I couldn’t help ourselves, but we knew we spoilt her.
My gorgeous parents, in old age now, loved having Holly and Daisy accompany us. We saw my parents a lot during the week and they would still go to Kew Botanical Gardens almost every day to work and help out, even though they were in their seventies. They often took Daisy too while we all worked and she loved it.
One day, Daisy came home from my parent’s house and said, “I am going to do what grandpa and granny do.” I am sure I had the biggest smile on my face and couldn’t wait to tell my parents that. I loved that my parents told Daisy to call them grandpa and granny. I know Holly really appreciated it because as I said earlier, her parents and husband’s parents died during WWII.
Both of my parents were semi-retired, but the botanical gardens were in their blood and they couldn’t give it up. They were very welcomed patrons to the gardens as you may recall earlier. My mother Charlotte loved doing new research on insects and butterflies, but her love and passion of botany increased after being with my papa. It couldn’t help but rub off on her, so it wasn’t long before she managed to do a postgraduate degree in botany after WWI and worked at Kew Botanical Gardens too soon after graduating.
Within four months of Holly going out with Clancy, he proposed to her and was very willing to adopt Daisy as well and be one happy family. They married at the Registry office in London and the whole family went to cheer them on and wish them well. They resided in a beautiful three story town house in Holland Park, West London for a good ten years before 1968, when she moved to California in the United States of America. She moved primarily because Clancy’s first two novels had been a great success and were both made into films. After careful deliberation, he was encouraged and supported to leave by one of his American friends, who had moved to the States a few years before to make it as a screenwriter, which is exactly what happened. He took a job as a screenwriter, preparing films and television programs for MCA-Universal, when he knew of a new position available there and thought of Clancy.
Also, in the early 1970′s, Clancy wrote and produced films for Warner Bros. He had become a success and I am lucky to say that Holly and Clancy never forgot us. We got regular letters and presents from Holly and many were dresses, long and short sleeved shirts, skirts and jackets that she had made, for she did dressmaking all of her life and even went to college to study dress design while Daisy was at school. In late primary school right through to the end of high school, Daisy learnt dressmaking by her mother, but her heart was in botany and she enrolled at the University of California to study it at twenty years of age, just like she said she would when she was a little girl. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t get to see Daisy fulfil her dream and I know that in some small way they played a part in Daisy following that path. I am sure they are looking down on her with pride.
One day in the post, we received news that Daisy had managed to get her degree in Botany and was currently doing her Masters in the field. On the side she was also studying horticulture and landscape design as she had ideas of starting up a small business just like her mother. She had Holly’s entrepreneurial spirit and an abundance of energy.
Holly died of breast cancer at the age of seventy five and sadly, Clancy never remarried. Daisy wrote to us occasionally, sending photos of her marriage, new home, baby girl Velvet Lavender, a girls name we adored and she told us that Holly’s favourite material was velvet and lavender was her favourite plant. She also had a thriving business in horticulture and landscape design that her husband helped to manage. Surprisingly, Daisy still does botany research on the side and works as a part-time lecturer at the University of California. She sent us all lots of photos and looked so much like Holly did after she was living with us for a while and she grew to love her life again, just like Daisy is loving life now.