There the parallels between the two women end. Apart from the fact that they both enjoyed smoking cigarettes ( my mother managed to give up in her forties), their lives were quite different.
Monica made a long, successful and happy marriage to her husband, Peter Raban, a rural dean in the Church of England, and gave birth to four healthy sons: Jonathan, Colin, William and Dominic, and enjoyed the company of her grandchildren. In fact, she longed for them. Alex, born in 1973, was her first longed-for grandchild, but she was denied any access to him by his father, Jonathan, who would not allow her to be in any kind of contact with him. This caused her, and myself, immeasureable pain, and robbed Alex of the chance to meet this remarkable woman.
I first met Monica in 1968, and liked her immensely. She was warm , kind and feminine, with a lovely, gentle voice. She was also politically left-wing, with a strongly- developed social conscience, honed possibly from her exposure to poverty in the working-class area of Millbrook, near Southampton, where her husband was based.
We kept in touch, by telephone, over the years, and she was always supportive towards me and interested in Alexander’s development. We lost contact towards her later years, because she left her house in Market Harborough to go into a care home.
I’m told that shortly before she died she mentioned the existence of her first grandson – Alex – to her youngest son, Dominic.
Marjorie was a different kettle of fish to Monica.
Her marriage to my father in 1939 sadly didn’t last. Like Monica, who was separated throughout the war from Peter, my mother, too, had to reconnect with my father in 1945, after the war ended. I was born in that year, and the marriage struggled on until about 1950, when my mother finally left. My father , unusually, obtained full custody of me in their divorce.
How interesting that these two very vibrant and beautiful women are now brought together in my son’s DNA profile. They live on in him.
I admired them both for their strength, poise and resilience.
Monica was a doctor’s daughter; Marjorie the daughter of an architectural draughtsman.
They both had style and taste. Both were well-mannered, and ‘bien elevee’. ‘ Alpha -grandmothers ”that Alex can be proud of, and whose genes continue to power on in their great- grandchildren.
I see Monica’s beauty in the delicate features of my grand-daughter, Esther, (Alex’s 12-year-old daughter), and Marjorie’s intelligence and common-sense in Esther’s high academic and creative achievements.
Both women have contributed so many gifts to her; and she is more than worthy of them both.