Trying to avoid a tragic mum’s terrible legacy

POOR Peaches Geldof.

Trying to avoid a tragic  mum’s terrible legacy

And her poor, poor family. How can such a clever, funny, ebullient woman, die so young and so suddenly? Initially it seemed as though she may have done a Sylvia Plath, dying of depression while leaving two babies behind — except there was no suicide note, no signs of depression on the social media sites on which she was so prolific. Her tweets were funny, smart, with no hint of suicidal intent.

She was all about joyful parenthood, full of love for her sons, who were, she wrote in a Telegraph column, carrying on “this ancient tradition of exotic yet pointless names” — Astala Dylan Willow and Phaedra Bloom Forever, aged one and two. But far from having post-natal depression, she gave all the appearances of loving being a mummy, of embracing parenthood with cheerful gusto, of welcoming its anchoring effect.

So was it the drugs? That’s what killed her mother Paula Yates, back in 2000 — an accidental heroin overdose, three years after the suicide of Yates’s great love Michael Hutchence. Except no drugs were found in Peaches Geldof’s house. Yes, like many teenagers, she had previously played around with drugs — so when news of her very unexpected death was announced, more assumptions were made.

It’s not like Peaches hadn’t pre-empted such speculation – in the past, when her drug use had been made public, she wrote: “It’s like people almost wish it would happen. But if my mother died in a car crash, does that mean I would have to run out in front of a car and it would be history repeating itself? If I was photographed by a road, would it be: ‘Peaches Geldof gets too close! She’s following in the path of her mother!’ every time?”

So what was it that killed a 25-year-old woman so suddenly? You don’t have to be a sleuth to deduce from recent photos of Peaches Geldof that she was very, very, very thin. Not just regulation celebrity-slim. More than that. There has been talk of bulimia. Given the apparent absence of depression and addiction, this seems likely, although at time of writing, test results have proved inconclusive. Not that it will make any difference to those affected — the awful fact for her family is that, like her mother, who died aged 41, she is no longer around.

Yet Peaches Geldof — along with the rest of her family — seemed to have recovered beautifully from the earlier earthquakes of well-documented family tragedy. She was a survivor, searching for meaning via Scientology, Judaism, and a spiritual path called Ordo Templi Orientis.

She had joined the ranks of daughters of women who had suffered greatly, but instead of following her mother towards tragedy, seemed — thanks to the stability provided by her father Bob — to be heading in a different direction.

Daughters of women whose lives became too much include a whole host of survivors, from Liza Minnelli to the daughter of Tammy Wynette. Christina Crawford famously wrote Mommie Dearest about living with an abusive alcoholic mother, actor Joan Crawford.

Judy Garland died from addictions, but her daughter Liza — an addict herself — somehow kept the show on the road. Carrie Fisher, daughter of actor Debbie Reynolds, grew up in the thick of Hollywood, bi-polar, alcoholic, and addicted to drugs — she turned all of that chaos into a series of sharp, funny books.

Melanie Griffith, also an addict, is the daughter of Hitchcock’s leading lady Tippi Hedren; she too recovered from her illness, and seems happily married to Antonio Banderas. Not an empty bottle or a coke wrap in sight.

Jade Jagger, daughter of Mick and Bianca, seems insanely stable, with her children and her home in Ibiza. Ditto Kate Hudson, daughter of Goldie Hawn — Kate may have a penchant for rock stars, but her mother’s emotional intelligence seems to have had a positive influence.

Even the daughter of Elvis Presley, himself one of the earliest victims of success and excess, has sailed through the mayhem of media attention, millions of dollars, and the mythical status of her dead father. Unlike Elvis, Lisa Marie Presley’s mother, Priscilla, remained a constant in her life. And Kelly Osbourne, the daughter of professional maniac Ozzy, survived her father’s drug and alcohol insanity thanks to the stable, if irreverent, influence of her mother Sharon.

It’s too soon to comment on what happened to Peaches Geldof. Bulimia, juice diets, eating disorders, whatever – the fact remains that she is dead, and that her children will grow up without her. Perhaps the only tiny pinprick of consolation is that her babies won’t remember her dying — unlike Peaches herself, whose life was cut in half by the death of her own mother.

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