Loving mother was 'ahead of her time'

Last updated 13:00 28/02/2014

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A Golden Bay grandmother has written a memoir of her early childhood with her "exciting" artistic mother, who left her husband in Indonesia, taking her daughter to live in the Netherlands, during the Depression years.

"I was born in 1928. I stopped the book the day the war began," said Aleida Pierrette Cahusac.

Early Days With Mother is written as a series of segments, each of which Cahusac says can "stand independently" as short stories. The book is written from the perspective of a child, as the 85-year-old can clearly remember her life from age 2 onwards.

She says it's the story of the unconditional love of a girl for her "exciting" mother - "the kind you really don't know what she'll do next".

"A solo mother ahead of her time who, from when I was very young, recited poetry to me that made her cry. Who played the piano, singing love songs in French and German, that made me cry. Whose hands could make what her eyes had seen in the shops, and who in her last years became a great painter."

The book is based mostly in The Hague, where Cahusac's mother, who was also called Aleida, and her family came from.

"It's about our adventures and what happened to us. It's a simple story, a very simple ordinary story, and yet people seem to like it, and that is strange to me. We had the rumbles of the war coming on," she said.

"I write everything by hand. I can type and think as I write, too, but I prefer to write by hand, because I feel the story coming out through my fingers."

She said she wrote the book for her family because it felt important to pass on her stories.

"We are the sum total of everyone who came before us, and it's good to know where we come from, good or bad."

Cahusac is also an accomplished artist.

A book launch for Early Days With Mother will be held at 11am at the Art Bank in Takaka tomorrow.

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- Nelson

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