Audrey Frances Doyle née Reed
The picture above was taken when she was about 24 in 1941.
She drove an ambulance during the blitzkrieg in London during World War II.
The greatest thing my mom taught me was empathy—it is something that children have a capacity for, but I think that empty empathy vessel is never filled without being modeled, without the example of seeing it in the family. Even in one as atypical and dysfunctional as ours was.
She had a naïve and endearing ability to only see the good in people until they proved otherwise, not pollyannaish, but a choice.
So the ability to place yourself in someone else’s shoes, and transubstantiate their pain and discomfort, is a gift. Though I’ll never be as good at it as she was, it has, to my ontological relief, provided a basis for my lifelong progressive and democratic values and pursuits.
My mom may not have been brilliant—though she was gifted in many ways. But her strength was an extraordinary kindness and as a bestower of gifts to the five children plus one lost that she raised alone—all alone—as an immigrant in 1952. She followed my father who came to America the previous year, traveling with two young children and a 13-month-old who was not yet walking. She was pregnant with me at the time of passage on that ship now residing in the Long Beach harbor, the RMS Queen Mary. They had a difficult relationship that ended a few years after I was born, so she was left to raise five on her own without much support from him.
She worked hard most of her life, too hard, and mostly from a position of trying to keep everyone afloat.
May you rest in peace that you’ve earned many times over. I love you mom.
The family gathering in 2003 to commemorate our mother’s life, and the gifts bestowed. Four of the five children with some spouses/in-laws and many of the grandchildren and two great grandsons shown.
Addendum: I've added three images to this post. I can't thank you all enough for your kind words—I mean that literally, it's difficult to express my appreciation for the affection and affirmation. Thank you very much.
A family portrait taken about 1960. On the top left, my half-brother John and half sister Jennifer from my mother's first marriage to an RAF pilot in England. We didn't consider each other "halfs" though, we were a family growing up together, so we were brothers and sisters. Dear mom is at back right. Sister Maureen, brother Paul, Tammy our poodle, and me in the front. I wrote a story with my brother John here on OS about his saving a life. That can be found here. My hair courtesy of Brylcreem.
Mom, a few months before she passed away at her community center a short distance away from my brother's place when he still lived near Napa. She was bright and true to her nature till the end. She always had creative artistic abilities and was constantly making things, painting, and giving the things she made away as gifts. A couple of things she made near the end of her life, and that I now happily possess are shown below. Two primitive dolls, the one on the left a crow in a sun hat. The primitive on the right has a heart medallion that says "PS, I love you." She made it all, the dolls and the dresses from scratch. She was always giving things like these away.