My Mother’s Voice

Alzheimer’s being the conniving thieving bitch that  it is, my mother wasn’t herself in the final years of her life. The  woman I visited in the Alzheimer’s special care unit was a stranger wearing my mother’s skin but not much else, like the invasion of the body snatchers had taken place, month after month beneath the surface, until one day we looked and the woman we knew was gone, replaced by some alien being. An imposter. Intruder alert. Intruder alert. She died back in 2012. Don’t worry; I won’t be getting maudlin on you.  My real mother–not that stranger in a wheel chair, head nodding on her shoulder–is who I want to think about today.  My real mother —Enid Maude Good nee Hayden, a prim, old-fashioned name, perhaps the only thing about her I didn’t love— was British-born and had a lovely London lilt to her voice her whole life even though she left England in the mid-1950’s. I suppose at thirty, her vocal patterns were already frozen in place.  Sounding like a cross between

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A question on the anniversary of my father's death

My dad, on the right.

 I woke up this morning thinking about my father. He died 26 years ago today, and since it’s British Isles Friday I thought I’d share a few pix of my very British old man. I also have a question about the old family photo above. I believe it was taken sometime in the 1950’s when we lived in Tripoli, Libya. There is another photograph somewhere of the larger group at what appears to be some sort of professional gathering or meeting, a handful of men and one woman sitting on chairs at either side. My father, ex-British Intelligence, fluent in Arabic, was working for the American government at the AFEX, the Army & Air Force exchange store at Wheelus Air Force base in Tripoli at the time. I don’t know the exact nature of his work but while he was investigating some unusually large financial losses he learned that an American he became close friends with turned out to be embezzling funds. That must have been one helluva an awkward friend breakup! 

What I’m really curious about from this time period though, is identity of the man (man-sitting) beside my father. Family lore says he is a Libyan royal or an important personage of some kind. With both my parents gone, there is no one left for us kids to ask. As happens so often with children, we don’t always listen all that closely to the stories our parents tell. By the time we’re interested, it’s often too late. While my dad loved to talk, and surely must have shared these details, I don’t remember them. I wish I’d taken notes! 

If the image strikes a chord with you, or you have a suggestion as to how to find out his identity, please give me a holler in the comment sections.

Now a few more pix from those black and white days!

Me and my da da (England, 1956)

I loved this wartime portrait of my dashing dad so much, I asked him to make a copy for me. 

This photograph was taken during World War II when my dad was one of the officers charged with overseeing Italian prisoners of war. My father is second from the right.

Please Share!

I don’t usually ask this but I would love for you to share this post to help me learn the identity of the man sitting on the couch with my father, in Tripoli, Libya. 

My dad, Edward Good (no middle name) was born in 1915 in Preston, Lancashire, UK. He was fluent in five languages. In addition to Arabic—and English, of course—he spoke French, Spanish and Italian, all self-taught. He served in WWII, was stationed in the middle east, married our mother Enid M. Good (nee Hayden) in England, in 1947ish. After leaving Tripoli, we lived in Turkey, again with my father working for the American miliary, before moving to Canada in the early 1960’s. He would have been in his mid-forties when the photo at the top of the page was taken in the mid-1950’s. The man sitting next to him looks to be somewhere in that same age range.

Any information is welcome. Thanks!

Connect with Joy Weese Moll for British Isles Friday


  1. If you live near a library with a good section for genealogical research, you might start there for advice on how to research a question like that.

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  3. Fascinating, Sim. Your dad sounds quite a guy. My dad was in Egypt with the 8th Army - arrived just in time for Alamein - and died far too young 45 years ago this November; I can't believe where the time has gone. I don't suppose there's any mileage in cropping the photograph in question and sending it to someone specialising in Libyan history, or even a Libyan Embassy (if there is such a thing)?

  4. Thanks Joy, that's a great suggestion.

    Mike, I've learned that Libya does have an active embassy located in Washington. I'm not sure they would have time to help but I bet they be able to direct me to a good source. Great idea, too, thanks very much.
    I'm sorry about your dad. You must have been quite young as well!


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