Showing posts with label Daughters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Daughters. Show all posts

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Empty Nest (and garden flowers)


My oldest son visited at the weekend with his new young wife, the love of his life now, his lodestar, filling the house with their energy and optimism, eating more than I could possibly imagine, playing with the dog, walking, laughing, chatting, loving, sharing.

Then they were gone, as though they had never been here at all, the house a thousand times more empty than before they arrived.

And I sat for a while unusually quite alone, absorbing the silence, the stillness, had a cup of coffee, walked the dog, picked some flowers and waited for the emptiness to pass and my life to settle back into where it is now and for that to be enough.  

More than enough.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Mother's Day Blues

According to a recent newspaper report, daughters spend, on average, two months of their lives chatting to their mothers on the phone and speak several times a week.  My first thought was 'is that all?'. 

The mother/daughter relationship is one of the strongest bonds and possibly the most complex as we negotiate our differences.  My mother was a huge and important part of my life and she was always the first person I would turn to. She was always on my mind and I miss her beyond words.


I don't have a daughter and my experience of being a mother to my grown-up sons is necessarily very different.  I adore my boys and I know they love me deeply but they only phone if they have something specific to discuss, an arrangement to make. Other than that there is pretty much radio silence unless I initiate contact (which of course I do, frequently).  


So Mother's Day is bitter sweet - the day I miss my Mum the most and the day I miss being a mother the most too, as my sons are rarely able to be with me on the day, although I do try and arrange a get-together at some point in March, negotiating various birthdays, wedding anniversaries and other important commitments.   


And these were my Mother's Day flowers, picked from our emerging Spring garden by my partner, a parent himself who understands the complex interweaving of love and sadness when the young have flown the nest and their lives have moved on.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Wedding Bells


It was a very special day and despite still feeling drained by the wretched flu which is still pulling me down, I put on my best smile and dug deep.  Wild horses would not have kept me away from my son's wedding.  Of course there was a hat involved!  Someone had to do it, and who better than the Mother of the Groom, smart for once in black and ivory.

The Winter Garden at the smart London hotel was the perfect venue for afternoon tea with the bride's parents, the first opportunity we had had to meet them, before the beautiful, simple ceremony at the nearby Registry Office.  The Groom was suitably nervous and elated and the Bride, when she finally appeared, was beautiful and radiant as only a bride can be on her wedding day.

Afterwards the newly weds, family and friends piled onto the specially commissioned red London Route Master bus, to be greeted with glasses of champagne as the party began and we set off across central London laughing and chatting as the tension was released, children waving to us as we stopped at traffic lights - for once part of the sights of London!

The Thames-side pub/restaurant with its stunning view of the river was warm and welcoming after the short walk from the bus in the still freezing-cold late March wind.  The food was delicious, the atmosphere relaxed and informal and the party took off.  Meeting so many of my son's friends and having all three of my children, as well as my new daughter-in-law, together in the same room was a special joy, and it was a great pleasure also to welcome three of my step-children, who joined us after the dinner and speeches, the first time they had met my son's new wife; we are a combined family that is still evolving and growing.

As the evening progressed, fancy dress clothes and wigs were produced from somewhere, adding to the fun.  Of course, there were cupcakes and very delicious they looked too, I thought, choosing one and putting it down on the table for a few minutes while chatting to someone, only to find, when I came to look for it, that my ex-husband was sitting in my place scoffing it.  It was My Cup Cake! There was something rather predictable about that, I thought.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Letting go

“To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;

and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go”

Mary Oliver


This poem is dedicated to my wonderful firstborn son, Tom, who was married on Saturday
to his beautiful, talented bride

Wishing them all the love and luck in the world!

Friday, 14 September 2012

Requiescat in pace

We were out on the water when it happened, battling strong winds and wayward tides, trying to negotiate the sandbanks at the mouth of the river so we could sail the boat back to our home port. Daunted by the size of the waves and the hostile conditions as we headed out to sea, we turned back, making for the charming riverside town two hours upriver where we planned to spend another night, try again tomorrow.

There were three missed calls on my mobile when I went down below to change out of my foul weather gear and fear gripped my heart.  Something was wrong. My sister broke the sad news that she was gone, her heart had failed and she was lost to us.  My lovely mother.


I cannot yet even begin to comprehend my loss or work out how to live in a world where she is not. She has been part of my story all my life, her life entwined with mine and somehow in all the busyness of life, all the additional responsibilities of the last year since her health deteriorated so rapidly, I never really thought about this.  I was too busy living to think about dying.


She had a beautiful Requiem Mass early one morning at the little church on the green beside the river in the market town nearby.  She would have loved the service, the music, the flowers, having so many members of her family come to bid her farewell, as well as the love and laughter that flowed afterwards as we all sat down for lunch before heading back to our various lives.  


And yet, in some small corner of my mind, I still think that if I got into the car, drove the 10 miles cross-country to the Nursing Home where she spent her final contented months, greeted the staff, climbed the stairs, opened the door to her room, she would still be there to welcome me with a delighted smile, a big hug and a kiss, that I would coax her out into the garden to sit in the dappled shade of the old magnolia tree and share a cup of tea with her again.


 It was, in truth, as she would have wanted it; a quick, sudden ending.  She was spared more slow deterioration, the deepening of her dementia, the continuing failure of her body.  She was a good woman and very dear to us.  She will be much missed.  




"Few have maps and fewer still know which bright star might carry them home"

Monday, 2 July 2012

Summer Garden





The roses under my bedroom window are so beautiful this year.  They, at least, are loving the wet, cool weather we have been having this summer.


I dream of having the time to just sit in the garden on a warm afternoon and not constantly to leap up to pull up a weed, or grab a trowel or spade to attack whatever is discordant.



And this is where we do sit on the rare warm evenings we have had this summer, with a glass of cool sauvignon blanc when the day's work is done.



It was so good to have Mum to visit the other day and see her enjoying a bit of late afternoon sunshine in our garden.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Musings on My Mother

She's actually very happy.  My mother.  Happier than anyone else I know.  She lives entirely in the moment and is indeed experiencing a second childhood.  The cast of characters in her mind consists mainly of her mother and father and her three brothers, whom she adored and who looked up to their older sister.  Only one is still alive.  She's looking forward to the Queen's Jubilee celebrations, the Queen having been there all her life practically and part of the long-lost childhood where she spends her time.  She still knows who I am, which is a real pleasure.

Born on a Prairie Farm in the wilds of Saskatchewan, her father having narrowly missed the catastrophe of the Titanic - a telegram from the farm manager calling him back early made him cancel his booking and take an earlier boat across the Atlantic - she will probably end her days under the wide skies of Suffolk, a place she has no connnection with at all, just part of the random pattern of her life, of all our lives.

Dealing with all this has made me step back and reflect on my own life.  To try and come to some sort of terms with the things that have happened and where I am now, the pattern of 'birth, death and the whole damn thing' as Elizabeth Luard so succinctly put it.

Monday, 14 May 2012

My mother

I lost my mother sometime last year.  A series of transient ischaemic attacks have destroyed part of her brain and taken away most of who she was, leaving a large, guileless child/woman in her place.  Someone who has lost the ability to care for herself and needs help with even the most basic tasks.

I mourn my mother, the lovely, warm, kind woman who was always there for me, who always understood my point of view and supported me in everything I did, all the choices I made, no matter how questionable.  I miss calling her to talk about my dilemmas, to tell her about her grandchildren and hear about her day, make plans to see her again soon.  I still see her, more than ever now I have moved her to a lovely nursing home nearby where I can keep a close eye on her, but the mother I had all my life has gone.

She was always there for me when I needed her, and now I need to be there for her now she really needs me.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

A Rose for a rose

I call them my shadow children, the ones I lost over 30 years ago; the embryonic lives that were never lived. Their spirits stay with me, on the periphery of my consciousness, the what ifs... the might have beens...

Of course I grieved for them deeply at the time, even though I never held them in my arms, never kissed them and changed their nappies, never left them at the school gates, chivvied them to do their homework, saw them launched onto lives of their own, lives that I would have only a small part to play in. I never knew the colour of their eyes, the texture of their hair, the smell of their skin, their personalities. I planted a rose in memory of my lost little ones and it has moved with me from one house to another over the years. It helps to embody them somehow, gives me a quiet focus for my private thoughts.


I was lucky. Despite the early difficulties, I now have three handsome, hulking, grown up sons who have filled the empty spaces in my life and given me little time to dwell on what was lost. But I have been thinking of them recently, following the sudden, unexpected death of an old friend's 16 year old daughter, a lovely young woman, full of bright promise, she had shared her life and filled her thoughts and dreams. She should be eagerly awaiting her GCSE results - she would have excelled - gone into the sixth form, fallen in and out of love, spread her wings, gone on to university, had a career, married perhaps... children of her own. All wiped away, never to be.



What solace can anyone possibly give to a grieving mother? What can ever even begin to help her to heal? She wakes up every morning to experience her loss afresh, as though for the first time.


I shall give her a rose to plant in memory of her daughter . It's not much, but apart from being there for her if she will let me, it's the best I can do.