Star of Tomorrow

My mother, Angela Huntley Clarke, on TV

Watching a documentary on Judy Garland last night reminded me of my mother.

Angela had her own, yet similar, beauty, musical abilities and insecurities. She loved Wizard of Oz, and, being maybe a half dozen years younger than the famous star, probably identified with Dorothy.

As a young woman, my mother had a beauty that, I think, rivaled Garland or Elizabeth Taylor. I have hundreds of photos of her, and she truly does seem to glow in most of them. Was she actually happy, or was it just a part she played in front of her father's Ricoflex camera?

Angela could play piano and violin, could sing, and acted in productions with the Victoria Gilbert and Sullivan Theatrical Society. It must have been someone's plan for her to break into the performing arts - maybe her own, maybe her Mother's. In 1956, she was a Star of Tomorrow, and had the demo recording to prove it.

"With a little bit o' luck", maybe my Mum might have flamed out gloriously under bright lights and a camera's watching eye, instead of burning out anonymously amidst depression, alcoholism and unfulfilled dreams. I wonder if she resented missing some big break along the way. Maybe she never even got that far.

I can still hear my Dad proudly proclaim "Your mother had a beautiful singing voice. They said she could have sung with the Metropolitan Opera." In my younger years, I would have loved to have had a famous and successful mother - someone in whom we could take pride for her accomplishments. Or maybe it's about wanting to see others be proud of her - to share her with everyone else.

Since becoming an adult, I have had a new wish for Mum: that she was healthy and able, and that she could be there for her husband and her kids - a wife and a mother. It would have been wonderful to get to know her live and in person the same way I knew my Dad or my sister.

Instead, I will posthumously reinvent her through album after album of someone else's dreams of who she was or who she could have been, and then build little shrines to her on the Internet.