“From Summer to Sarah” Episode one – ‘Eight weeks and four days since you took your love away’

It’s been eight weeks and four days since Mummy flew from Cork to London to implement the “marriage recovery plan”. Little did I know that the plan would include whisking me and Claudette, my three year old daughter, back to Cork.

I pleaded with her over the phone in August, when the news broke. There was no need for her to come to London.

“Really, Mummy! You’re over-reacting! Johannes and I can figure this out on our own. He’s probably just highly stressed. He doesn’t know what he is saying! Or thinking! Or even feeling, for that matter!”

I had convinced myself it was stress. It had to be. He had recently sold his stake in Elite Investments Limited, one of the top private equity fund administrators in Europe. We had just moved into our four bedroomed, perfectly proportioned, terraced house in Knightsbridge. I mean, we hadn’t even agreed on who we would employ as our interior designer, for pity’s sake. I had my heart set on Kelly Hoppen. I adored her on Dragons’ Den. And, seeing as she and Johannes are both South African, I felt it would be a match made in heaven. Johannes was adamant that Ms Hoppen was the wrong choice because she would insist on every soft furnishing being taupe and he would feel he was surrounded by a sea of digestive biscuits.

A major career change. Moving house. The anxieties attached to placing one’s personal stamp on four bedrooms, five reception rooms and five bathrooms. No wonder Johannes was having wandering thoughts!

Mummy refused to listen.

“Sarah Murphy! I’m flying to England and that’s final! And would you give over calling me Mummy? ‘Tis far from Mummy you were raised. It’s your Mammy you need now. And little Claudette needs her Nana”.

I could feel a migraine coming on as she preached to me via my Iphone 7 Plus.

“Now, do you want me to bring over any Taytos? Barrys tea? I was going to decant some of that holy water that Bridie Coughlan brought back from Lourdes for me. I thought I’d put it into one of those 100ml bottles so I could bring it in my handbag but your Dada won’t have it. He’s worried I’ll start dousing Johannes with it and he claims that, given the circumstances, it wouldn’t be very P.C. Didn’t I tell him I wasn’t bringing the holy water to spray on that eejit’s head at all! Aren’t I afraid of flying and I want the water in the bag to make sure the plane stays up in the sky!”

A mother’s love really knows no bounds. Mummy was willing to face her fear of flying in order to come to my aid. What an absolute disaster! Because she had decided to play Florence Nightingale, I couldn’t correct her with regards to my change of name. If I’ve told her once, I’ve told her a million times.

“Mummy! My name is Summer van der Merwe. I changed my name via deed poll oodles of time ago. Your little country darling Sarah Murphy is no more!”

My repeated declarations regarding my title were usually met with tuts and eye-rolls. I would stand my ground, head held high in defiance. My life; my name; my choice. Secretly, I hoped Mummy would one day warm to Summer.

It was Mummy who had gathered the information about Johannes’ fall from grace from Linda who runs the concierge reception for the residents of our row. Mummy had come to visit us for a week when we moved to Knightsbridge in order to help Claudette settle into her new surroundings whilst I was at work. Private banking stops for no woman, man or high-functioning toddler. I’m sure Mummy befriended Linda so she would have a set of ‘eyes on the ground’. Watching every move I and Johannes made. I can only imagine the nonsensical Facebook messages Linda was sending to Mummy. They most probably had some sort of code name for their mission – ‘Operation Separation’ or something equally ridiculous!

Mummy was in our home less than half an hour before Claudette was standing by the main lounge in her Burberry navy padded jacket and dusty pink Mayoral boots. Her Trunki was jammed full of cuddly toys and books, waiting patiently alongside her.

“Why are you dressed for winter, my angel? It’s so warm outside”, I asked

“Mommy! We’re going to Ireland with Grandma. Everyone knows it’s cold in Ireland so I decided to wear my warmest clothes! Daddy is discussing our departure right this minute with Grandma in the kitchen.”

Gobsmacked, I settled Claudette on one of the charcoal Chesterfield sofas that Johannes had chosen and made my way towards the kitchen where Mummy and Johannes were sat at the table, deep in conversation. Making decisions for me, no doubt!

“What is going on? Why is Claudette dressed like the abominable snowman and discussing my possible repatriation back to Cork?”

Johannes rose from his seat, teary eyed.

“It’s just for a short time, my love. We need some space. Time apart. I’ve spoken to Graham and he said you can take as much time as you need away from work”.

He spoke to Graham? Head of Private Wealth. My boss!  Graham is the reason we are in this mess! Of course, he would agree to give me time off work!

So, here I am. Eight weeks and four days later. Living with my parents. Sharing my old bedroom (a shrine to my teenage years because Mummy refused to take down any of my posters) with my three year old daughter who insists on questioning her parentage every five minutes, since she cannot possibly be related to someone who once listened to Boyzone. Crying inside, every time my brother, Declan says,

“Samhradh, I’m off for a cycle. Leave the back door open for me.”

Crying because my husband thinks he’s fallen in love with my old spinning partner – Graham.



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