Tiffani Ross isn’t what I expected. I’m not sure what exactly I expected, given that I’ve not seen her in the press for years. Alicia kept her out of the limelight as she did all of her kids, during their formative years, and Tiffani seems to have kept that private life going even after reaching her teenage years.
She stands to meet me, holding out one hand, and I have to do a double take. She is physically the polar opposite of her adoptive mother, but there is still something of the warmth that Alicia seemed to exude each time I saw her on television. “Do you want a cup of coffee?” she asks, “I’ve been mainlining cups for the last couple of hours, so I probably shouldn’t have any more, but I’m betting that you could do with one, if you’ve really been interviewing all the people that were important to my mum,”
I’m a little taken aback by the stream of words, still recovering from the long drive, and eagerly accept the cup of black coffee that she’s offering. The first sip clears my head enough for me to start to listen to her story about the first time that she met her mother.
Ali is the first thing that I have a conscious memory of, the feel of her sweater under my fingers when she picked me up, lifting me away from the damp floor of my family’s kitchen, the place that I had been for three weeks. From that moment on, she became my mother. She was the one solid and positive influence on my life, raising me to be myself, regardless of others’ expectations.
She was already raising Mary, but I never, not for a moment felt like I was any less her child, than she was. Alicia offered me the exact same opportunities that she gave to Mary, and took just as much interest in my hobbies and interests that she did with my sister.
She stopped moving quite as much, giving us a permanent base in Paphos, and taking us with her if the business trip fell in the school breaks. I had set foot on every continent on Earth, by the time that I was eleven, and was fluent in four different languages. Alicia taught me Greek and Italian, her two native tongues, as well as giving me a crash course in Norwegian, before I spent the summer there, when I was twelve.