You’d be seventy today. Seventy. That always seemed some weird, far off number when we’d laugh about it. You’d muse and say you’d be the cranky old woman in the corner with no teeth, gabbing on about something or other and demanding someone pour her a glass of wine.
Oh you have no idea how much I wish you were, right there, in the corner, annoying us all right now. We will mark the fourth year of you being gone this year and, mom, it’s gone so quickly. How did that go so quickly? Somehow the first day became the first month, became the first year, and it’s all just slipped into the ether.
I needed to tell you a few things. I think you’d be proud now. I did the things you told me to do, and – I know you’ll laugh at me – you were right. You told me to use my nose and follow through. I followed through. Every day, I follow through. There are a few challenges and strange obstacles that appear every now and again, and I do my usual freak-out-it-is-all-shit-i-am-terrible (“it’s shit, it’s all shit” hahahaha) dramatics, and then get on and get through it. I’m happy here, even when the work seems so much, and I feel frazzled and bitty. I’m happy. Really, I am. The one thing you hoped for me and I didn’t believe would be an actual, active reality.
C. You know mom, I don’t tell people this much, but she firmly maintains a strong bond to you. You come up in her conversations with me often, and she is adamant that you remain a strong part of her life. I like that. I endorse it. Completely. Did you know she has a picture of you on her bedroom wall? Sometimes, she talks as though you are just around the corner, and I am stunned by how well she knows you. Sometimes I will hear you in the lilt of her voice. Sometimes I’ll find you in her approach to something. She also does the funny hand-grabby thing you used to do when she gets excited about something. Sometimes when I look at her, I see Dad. A lot of the time though, I see you.
And, in there, sometimes I want to cry. But mostly it makes me smile. There in the strange genealogy of ours, your power is still coming through. Over years and through time, you’re still there.
I want to yell at the sky so you’ll see. You’d explode from pride if you just looked at her. Do you see? I really hope you see.
And in me. I look in the mirror sometimes and there you are, staring back at me. I find you in my anger at things. Although, I find myself not so easily angered nowadays by petty stuff – is this maturity? I find myself punching my fists into the air over injustice, and yelling at bigotry. I find myself calling people out on their bullshit, mom. And when it happens, it swirls up from within me and erupts from my mouth like a tornado that nobody got a warning for.
Me. You. I got a fright the first time I saw the photo on the right.
Thank you to Diane Cassells (oh mom, you’d have loved her!) for finding my mother in my face.
As those words tumble out of me, I hear your voice in them. Every time I say no, or yell at a stupid move by an unthinking twit, I see your power laid bare again. I understand now, how you’d say people would see you and assume you were meek. And you’ll laugh at their surprise after you opened your mouth to speak. You were assumed to be meek, until you began to speak.
It strengthens me, especially when I feel utterly obliterated by something that’s happened. That peculiar “Let’s get something to eat and then deal with this crisis” coping mechanism that you made into a life ritual. C even knows, when something happens, our first stop for everything is “get something to eat”. Haha.
But I see you in that ferocity of my love too. That focused, white light of love that a mother has for her children and family, and that guides everything. I have leant on that love, to teach me a way forward when I felt lost. That is the love you taught me, and now I am enacting it every day.
I wish for you in the corner mom. I wish for you in the corner of my lounge. I wish for you in the corner of my life. I wish for you in the corner of every single one of my days.
Happy Birthday, UM. I hope Dadadadad’s handing you a wine and a ciggie, and you’re laughing in a corner together somewhere. I miss you so much.