Island Blog – Happy Birthday Little One

Today is my sister’s birthday, my little sister and I have 3. Of course they are not ‘little’ anymore but to me they are still little. I remember being ordered, and often, to keep an eye on the little ones and I would roll my eyes and grunt like Kevin because I was that much older with a brother in between and where they still giggled about rude words, I was wanting to kit myself up in mock leather hipsters or culottes (oh dear) or a mini skirt and jackboots in order to attract wolf whistles from builders. As the years rolled on and they all became women, our ages differed little and our lives diverted down different paths, we found common ground. Womanhood.

I have no idea how old she is today but I know she loves birthdays and not just her own. She is a woman who celebrates all dates important to those she loves and she does love actively. As we all dive into our separate lives, we can lose the connection we had in childhood, to a great degree, or it can become misty, hard to see in the harsh light of reality. Unless we are in touch with each other we won’t know what or how each other feel about things. About fish, or holidays, or cold winds or street entertainers. Or anything else for that matter. But it doesn’t matter, not if the connection forged in childhood has rooted. When we would meet as adults at first we were cautious around each other for how can we be sure of all we might say, that it might not upset or offend? We don’t. But now, as we move through our 60’s, we are less easily shunted off our rails. Ah, if we could know this gentle acceptance in our 30s what a world this one would be!

Back to the birthday girl. I know what she means to me and she knows what I mean to her. We have history. We have gone through pain together. We have fumbled, got it a bit wrong, come back and made it right. We are sisters and that bond is the tap root. She is a marvellous strong kind and loving woman. She is funny, naughty, mischievous and intuitive. She can laugh a grumpy room. She is a changer of moods, a shifter of darkness, a bright light and she can cook a symphony.

Happy Birthday Little One.

Island Blog – Conversation

I miss it. Conversation. Talking to myself is all very well but I know what is coming next, in the main. This morning, from 4 am, I soaked some sun-dried tomatoes in fragrant herby oil, washed spinach leaves for later, ironed my latest baby playmat and ate breakfast at 5. This means I feel like lunch by 11 so I asked the clock not to look at me like that and proceeded to fry 3 small slices of Hallumi cheese, adding salad, tomatoes and olives. Lunch done by 11.15. Now what? I’m bored of you, I tell myself. I can sense her behind me. She is a bit huffy at first but she is me and me stands her ground. We face each other. Look, I say, no offence but we have been stuck together since March 14th 2020 and apart from Himself #compromisedandsilent, carers, nurses and doctors, it has been just us. I think we have both aged ten years. It certainly looks like it in those mirrored reflections. We have just run out of interesting things to say to each other. Oh, we can jibber about what to eat for lunch, and jabber about timing for a dog walk or the rain or puddles or the mail arriving or if this tree will finally land on the house having threatened it, noisily, for days now, but it is just is not enough. Not any more. Our thrill today was two phone calls, one to call me in for a covid jag and the second to tell my my application for a postal vote is being considered. The excitement is deafening.

After we have talked awhile, she suggests, as we are both extremely tired, that we watch some TV. TV? Inside the daylight? You are so kidding me, no way. Aw, come on, she soothes. I know that tone and I bristle. We are weary and bored of each other, she reminds me. I feel a bit uncomfortable as I hadn’t considered she was bored of me too, but I got over that quickquick. Stand, ground etc. I capitulate. I don’t want to sew, nor clear the mess in the garden, nor lug in the logs, nor pretty much everything else. Ok, I concede and make tea. Call the Midwife, that will do nicely. I turn my back to the light, to the view, to the window and the rain and slump down in my horrible cream leather armchair with push button leg elevation thing. I bought these horrible cream leather sitapons for easy wiping down when Himself was dropping food like there was no tomorrowland. Anyway, once I have watched one, cried every time a baby was born and moved on to the next, I know she made the right decision for us both. It passed the time for starters and somehow calmed me. Now that thinks me.

Triggers. I was told and in no uncertain terms by my mother-in-law that sitting down in the daytime was unforgivable, as was buying myself flowers or a ring, definitely not that. Watching TV in the daylight was about the worst of them all. It was perfectly fine for men to do that, to watch cricket or football or Parliament in session but not for we women. Good god no. We should be ironing, washing, preparing food, preserving fruits, shelling peas, that sort of thing. We could read a book as long as it was a cookery book or one that guided us through the vast and imprisoning rulebook on wifedom, motherhood and active community engagement. It seems that trigger is alive and kicking for I feel it sharp-toothed and even have to check that my guide on How To Be The Perfect Woman isn’t standing right behind me with that look on her face. Ah. Let us take a look at this. It bizarres me in this considerably more freeing but not finished yet by a long chalk culture around what women should and should not do or be, that the voices of my past still hold sway.

I walk the dog, a bit wearily I must confess and she, the dog, was a tad miffed at the shortness of it, but it was raining and I was weary and just how much do you think I care about that? All over her face, yes, it was. Home, and some exercise for Henry who was surprisingly agile considering all that time he sits on his butt in the cupboard under the stairs with the spiders and the mice and the old photos of people nobody has a clue about. I am glad the gale has blown herself out. She was way too loud for me. I wonder where she is gone? Does a gale dissipate, fliffle away to nothing or does she hit another shore with the same ferocity she brought to bear here? I don’t know. I am just happy to have her gone. I see the branches, limbs, strewn across the track, in my garden. The bird seed is everywhere but on the table. But it is quiet now. There is peace now. And for that I am thankful.

The fire burns merrily. I am safe with myself and she’s a good egg to be honest. I suspect this marriage of minds is complex. We have never had so long together, never. There was always someone else, or someone elses to chip in comment, demand, decide, guide, lead and support. Now it is just us. It may take awhile to learn how to live together.