Tuesday 5 November 2013

China and My Mum - A Story in Pictures - Joan Lennon

Jean Alaithia Lennon was born in 1921 on Mount Emei (one of the four Holy Mountains) in Sichuan Province, China.  By the time she was three, her father (a medical missionary) had died of typhus and malaria.  There was unrest in the province and it was not considered safe for her or her mother or baby brother to remain. They were taken down the Yangtse on an American gunboat, back to Canada.  They didn't return.

Those are the bones of the story, but I have very little flesh to lay over them.  My mum didn't remember that time at all, and her mother was my ghastly grandmother (to distinguish her from my lovely grandmother) who didn't talk about it, or at least not about my mother's part in it, which was the part I always wanted to know.

And yet, and yet ...  Look at the photos.  Hints of the story are there.  You can see the seeds of the woman in that little girl.  And that fierce finger in the last photo as my mum is poised to run.  An entire relationship in a single gesture.

Joan's website.
Joan's blog.


Petrea Burchard said...

Brilliant photos! A photo can say so much.

The Greenockian said...

Wonderful photographs, as you say, the last one is so telling!

Pippa Goodhart said...

Presumably they perched small Mum on top of those bricks? And on that too tall chair? Hmm. Amazing you're so 'normal', Joan!!

Joan Lennon said...

Thank you Petrea and Liz - and yes Pippa, terrifyingly casual - that verandah without railings in the first picture looks as if it's at tree top level! About that 'normal' thing, though ... Hmmm indeed.