So far in Embraceable You ….
School girl Josefine Hanrahan has been a boarder at Our Lady of Dolores for most of her childhood. Today is her eighteenth birthday but it’s a lonely birthday. Josefine finds it difficult to make friends and the other girls don’t like her. Her father is Australia’s richest man but he’s a lousy father. Today, Josefine is going to break free …
For the ten years that she’d been a boarder at Our Lady, Josefine had the largest room in the building, much bigger than the college tutor’s apartment down on the ground floor. She had defied the convention of moving rooms when she graduated to middle school and then to the high school and stayed in her renovated double quarters. For a decade, Josefine had been able to gaze at the ducks on the lake in either of two stained glass windows, if she wanted to.
On that particular frosty mid-May morning, however, that was not what she wanted to do. As soon as she finished her hot chocolate, what she planned to do was pack up her tenor saxophone and make her way, sans permission, to the Japanese mist sculpture garden beside the National Art Gallery. There, she would play her mother’s favourite song “Embraceable You” until her mouth bled and, through every rendition, she would imagine that Liv was right there behind her with her cool hand on her shoulder, preparing to sing in her surprisingly clear confident Ella Fitzgerald, bluesy voice. Her long black lashes would line her eyelids like a pair of little dark smiles and the sound of love and longing would rise up through the mist like it used to when she was alive.
As a little girl, Josefine had Liv with her for six wonderful years, followed by two more not-so-wonderful years while her beautiful Danish mother suffered through a slow, wasting death in her home town. In the pretty fjord town of Vejle, Liv was weak, thin and pale all the time. Trying to pack so much into too short a time, she would hold her daughter’s face in her hands, smile into her eyes and tell her that she was loved. Then she would sing until she had to stop for the coughing.
“Why do you have to leave me?” How she ached to voice her anguish but Mormor made her promise that she’d never ask Liv that question.
Liv took Josefine to Denmark to be out of St John’s reach, to thwart his intention to send their daughter to send her to boarding school. The Jutland Peninsular was not really beyond the reach of Australia’s Richest, of course, but they were sufficiently out of his thoughts for Liv to be permitted to fade with Josefine close to her, cramming all the mothering she could, into the dying years. Most mornings they would retreat somewhere, just the young woman and her daughter.
Without musical accompaniment, Liv would sing. In their second year in Vejle, Mormor had brought out an old saxophone and presented it to Josefine for Christmas. When the girl took to the instrument as if born to play, Morfar gave her proper lessons and then she realized the saxophone was his and she noticed that Liv’s passion for jazz was something she shared with her father. With or without the saxophone, Liv would let her long, dark hair fall forward over one shoulder, close her blue-as-the-sky eyes and let her voice soar.