I follow my son’s tail lights through the scary ebb and flow of Glasgow and on, on, up and up, around the swirls of Loch Lomond. Tight fit, those swirls, and too many fat buses with sticky out side mirrors choose that time to challenge me and Maz. Maz is my mini, and she is not ‘mini’ at all, but a wide shouldered broad, with sass. Black and sturdy she is, thinking me of many black, sturdy, sassy, wide shouldered African women. She has Sport Mode, whatever the hec that is, and Cruise Control which thinks me of unfastening my seatbelt at 60,000 feet. I doubt I will press either button. In fact, I am hesitant to push any button, however exciting it says it is on my flashy dash. I manage Radio Two, and Steve Wright is most encouraging for quite a decent distance. He makes me chuckle with his quickfire nonsense. Just for the record, Stains and Staines are not spelled the same. I wonder if anyone will put him wright, or if it doesn’t really matter at all how you spell anything much, unless you’re my dad.
We arrive #knackered at my son’s house at 6pm. Feed me wine. That’s what I said. It is the eve of my birthday and I have achieved much in this lead up, being ‘lead up’ by one of a mother’s strongest allies – a son. The other is a daughter. Can’t beat ’em, and I would recommend everyone has a try for both. We eat a delicious stir fry thingy and are in bed before Corry, not that either of us watch it, but my mother-in-law was a devotee and a visit around that time was stonewalled, so it’s clocked in my marital DNA, even if she did die in 2002.
I manage, pre early bed, to book Maz and me on the 12pm ferry home. Twice. I also booked, so they tell me, when I arrive at the ticket office, on the 2pm. Pretty damn fine I reckon for a 66 year old birthday girl. Let’s do everything in style, shall we? I choose the booking with the prettiest colours and I line up in Lane One. I’m super knackered now. It has been a wonderful adventure and wonderful adventures can take it out of you once they are definitely parked in yesterday. Perhaps I should take to wearing lycra. As far as I can tell, lycra has hidden energy-giving qualities, or so it seems to me, as I’m dazzled by the shiny slink of it sheathing the lithe bodies of high sport achievers or Munro baggers.
On the ferry (with the prettiest booking) I sink into a seat, feeling a tad flip-flop, until a woman rounds the corner, her eyes scanning the room. I haven’t seen her for well over a year so I stand and make her want to sit with me, like Ra the snake. I don’t think my eyes are revolving, but what do I know? I’m not looking at them. It works, anyway. She is someone I don’t know well, but one I liked at first contact and she seems willing enough to join me. The next 45 minutes does something remarkable. All we do is to share chat about our lives. I ask about hers, and she asks about mine. Neither of us dominate the conversation. We talk of dementia, of caring, of dogs, kids, siblings, mums and dads. As we talk, I find an answer to something, a something that was never even raised nor placed on the little round fixed-to-the-floor-for-safety table. I don’t get it till me and Maz drive onto the island and then it comes, like a bolt from the slurry skies, aka, one minute blue, next minute flat white with the threat of something only the flat white knows……for now.
It bizarres me. First off, it was no coincidence that she and I would meet on that ferry on that day at that time. As you already know, I had booked on quite a few. Second, we never touched on that subject. And yet, and yet, well holy milk bottles…….I got an answer! I also notice that my flip-flop has turned into lycra. So I drive back home through the Glen #nocarsatall, arriving home to a birthday dinner invite. I light the fire, tidy up, unpack, la la la and then off I go, me and Maz, a short distance up the track to find balloons, dinner, champagne, music, cake, another son, his wife, two crazy wee girls (one naked, just how she likes to be), a roaring fire and me being celebrated. We, me and the girls, one naked, open the presents and the dog eats the wrappings. I have no idea who gave me what as it happens in a hysterical heartbeat and, besides, I was laughing too much at the show of it. We dance, we flip crazy girls, we sit by candlelight and forget all about the ‘acceptable measure of alcohol for a woman over 60’ thing.
I am going to collect my old car from the ferry terminal this morning.
Best not, says the Voice in my Head. That birthday, dear girl, was one hec of a cracker. I agree. The best in many years in so many ways.