It was with the greatest sadness that I learned today of the death of an icon; Elizabeth Taylor. The first I heard of the news was in a text from my sister who lives in South Africa to ask if I had heard anything. I had not, but immediately got onto twitter and there it was 😦 – “Elizabeth Taylor Has Died at the age of 79 – NYTimes.com”
At that precise moment I was standing on the Stone Gallery of St Paul’s Cathedral looking out across London and marvelling at how lucky I am to live in this wonderful and beautiful city. My sister thought it was quite apt that I should be at St Paul’s on hearing this news.
As I read the newsfeed on twitter I felt an inextricable sense of loss. A deep sadness that threatened to overwhelm me at that moment and I found myself in tears as I looked out over the city. This may seem odd to anyone reading this blog, but Elizabeth Taylor, although I never met her personally, played a big part in my childhood. My mother was a huge fan of hers and we saw every movie that had Elizabeth Taylor in it.
As children growing up in the ‘backwaters’ of South Africa (I joke of course), to us, Elizabeth Taylor seemed almost always in the news; London, Hollywood and in fact ‘overseas’ in general always looked glittering and enticing, an unreachable world of glamour. It helped of course that she was incredibly beautiful and ‘appeared’ to lead a charmed life.
As children we, my sister and I, thought that my mother was incredibly glamorous, with her lovely long titian hair that hung down her back. When she dressed up to go out, we hung around admiring her outfits and jewellery; entranced as she ‘did her face’. We thought she was the image of Elizabeth Taylor and often told her that. Needless to say she scoffed at the very idea, but truly when she did her hair up in the swirls and curls of the swinging sixties fashions, she looked almost identical to Elizabeth Taylor, more particularly when she wore a turban on her head….an egyptian beauty in Jo’burg.
So as I stood there, hundreds of feet above the city, the wind was taken out my sails and I sat down on the bench nearby with a thump. At that moment it felt like a link, albeit a very tenuous link, to my mother had just broken. She, Elizabeth Taylor was only 79! that is still such a young age in today’s world. My mother died 27 years ago just a couple of months short of her 53rd birthday.
I have surpassed that age and next month celebrate my 56th birthday (urgh – I am far too young to be 56!!!) and it suddenly came home to me that it was time I made some changes in my life. I have been threatening to quit my job for a very long time now. I feel like life is whizzing me by, working 24hours a day/7 days a week with the occasional break and days off (of course I always make the most of those breaks & days). I keep finding reasons to not quit, like I have debts to pay, I want to save up for a campervan and/or blah blah blah! Frankly it is just total fear that keeps me from making the break!
And so, in that very moment, as the news hit home, and I sat there with tears running down my face, I made the decision to quit my job.
There is so much I still want to do and places I want to go and I am damned if I am going to my grave not having been to or done the things I want to do. “When people say, ‘She’s got everything’, I’ve got one answer – I haven’t had tomorrow.” Elizabeth Taylor.
So goodbye Elizabeth Taylor and au revoir Mommy, we miss you.