Island Blog – Scatterfry and Meaning

I collected my scatterfry of grand girls from school this morning. Early, although unannounced, I was welcomed, as I always am. I remember so well the possibly fraught minutes through waking a reluctant sleeper, encouraging pyjamas off, breakfast proffered, rejected, recreated, rejected again, the whole flipping tiredness of motherhood. I remember it well and am glad it is no longer my role. This child needs to eat before school. Am I failing? Did I get him or her wrong? No, no no, my wonderful young mothers and no again. This is motherhood. Welcome.

Then I went back to my life. An hour long call with my counsellor, strong, challenging, compassionate and funny. He is a strength for me and weekly and lucky me. However, he didn’t just appear like a white knight, no. I seem to be No-ing a lot here. Hmmm, moving on. We spoke of many things, not cabbages nor kings but of the questions we ask ourselves, the doubts we do or do not challenge, the foundering on rocks and the maybes and the what ifs and the option to lift above all of our circumstances as a sentient and choisic being. We choose who we are in any set of circumstances. I have always believed this, not always managed to show it out, not having the confidence to find the words to deliver my belief into those circumstances. I did cower, I did hide, I did, I did.

Back to the scatterfry. I collected them from end school, arriving a bit early thus giving me the chance to chat to the young mums and dads on collection-duty. We spoke of many things, of foraging, of ferry halts, of weather and of school brilliance, which is a very big thing for us. The Primary School here is second to none and even none can leave the room. It is a magnificent school and no mistake.

As we left, the scatterfry and me this morning when all our hats were askew and our breakfast half eaten something big erupted. Let me explain. I was to take them to school to help mum. No issue there. However, in the porch, whilst pulling on trainers and backpacks, something feral wilded. Who is to sit in the front of Gaga’s car? Eish, you might think, who cares? But the care manifested in tears and more. The young girl just knew, just KNEW that her older sister had been in the front the last time. She melted on the steps. She was sure, she was certain. I waited by the car with the older one, already in the front seat, however, her face in that front seat was downcast, sad, somehow. I asked her, what are you thinking? She said, I don’t mind being in the back seat Gaga. Ok I said, good for you (thinking compassion learned at such a young age). She quietly back-seated herself. The wee one got in. We moved to school and I said I would collect them. Your big sister in the front next time. She agreed. We came to me, ate crackers and watched Sponge Bob. Well I didn’t. Then they went the scatterfry and the silence of their Go, thinked me.

The ‘wee one’ remembers everything, is a sponge for learning, forgets nothing and remembers everything, more than anyone else. And I wondered. Was she right about who sat in the front of my car last time? Was she? Well, maybe she was. There is the likes of me who really doesn’t care. And then there are those to whom such information matters a lot.

Island Blog – Because she cares

The farrago is clearing, as if, as if, I move through it, like a fog that eventually gets fed up of all that fogging nonsense and puffs itself out. The path ahead becomes clear, or clearer. It takes a moment or two to re-align my eyeballs with this new clarity as the density of unseeing becomes vision. A human falter. But we know how to survive and suddenly. When fog clears, our senses are heightened. We adjust. We must adjust in order to move on intelligently. But, we cannot always rely on self, on the aloneness of the singular, not in all situations. Because I was lost in the turmoil and fear of fog, I spun like a dervish without intention, without a plan. So, I reached out. I called my sister. I have three and each one is wise in different ways. This one is beautifully pragmatic with a can-do attitude, cautious but never compromised by caution. She investigates it, thinks it through, pulls it apart and studies it. I came to her like an unravelling jumper and she, well she, did not knit me back up again. She just saw, immediately how I felt. She is not afraid to speak and I felt so much better after our talk. It was like I came down from some planetary freak out.

It thinks me. I know, have always preached, that we need each other, that reaching out for help as we feel we are drowning, is not a weakness but a strength. However, I did feel foolish at first, me, the older sister, needing a guide through the fog, my personal fog. Then I did what she does. I looked around me at the complex thixitude I had made all by myself and for myself, I thought it through and studied it and I smiled. It takes someone else, a one you trust with all your fears and failings, your admitted weaknesses no matter your age or place in the pecking order, to hold out a hand and to bring support.

The words ‘help’ and ‘support’ took on a different shape for me in the caring years. They came as crutches and support bars affixed to walls. But I need to re-jig my thinking on that and to remember that there are times in every single life when we need to trust another enough to tell them how we feel. Yes, it means unzipping our breasts for a full revealment and I get that it is something we would rather not do. I felt it and for a whole foggy week. But, I have learned and am still learning that, no matter how experienced we are, how apparently wealthy, how strong, how much of a leader we have become, we are human. We meet fog. We meet fear. And, when we do, we must reach out to someone we trust, someone who we once guided but who now might just lift us up just because she cares.

Thank you my sister.

Island Blog – The Admiral and a Flag

Please excuse my absence from this page. Although I seriously doubt that my blog is a lifeline for anyone, I do feel a bit odd when I don’t scatter my thoughts across a page to then fire it off into the ether.

Things have, in truth, been a bit diplodocus of late. A urinary tract infection has the power and the subtle and silent energy to turn a flat pancake of a time into a spiralling ball with intent. It upskittled us all, not least the one with it. However, the doctor is a wise and intuitive man, working out what the demise might mean, and it seems he was right, to a degree. Nobody can stop a dementia decline and each blow will manifest itself in that decline. The old Admiral is a frail thing now, still aware and still smiling but much quieter and much more unable to work the field independently. It is very hard to watch. It’s like bereavement, only not. The one slowly disappearing is still very visible in the room. It can go on for years. I hope not. We all hope not. Once a good quality of life morphs into existence, there really is nowhere to go. But there are wee chats, albeit mostly me ‘wee chatting’, and there are laughs when I co-ordinate wrong, or misunderstand a request, guiding him cheerily in a southerly direction when it is clear to him he was headed true north.

He has humour and acceptance. We have talked about the after life. He believes in one, as do I, although neither of us give it a name. He says he doesn’t want to leave me, and I said, well you have to go first. If it was up to me to stick a flag in new territory, we’d end up in a bog with no view and the local shop 10 miles away. He chuckled.

T’is good. For now.

Island Blog 159 On Marriage

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It all starts with a Wedding, that’s what I say.  When I get an invitation to someone’s ‘Marriage’ I have this strong urge to call them up to correct their grammer, or is it grammar……….. because the wedding is the bit when you make impossible vows and completely believe in them, and the marriage is the rest of your life together.  So not the same thing.

These vows are written in stone, or so you think at the time.  They also ask of you more than will ever be asked of you in any other part of your life.  What seemed like an uphill struggle before, when you were free and single, evanesce as you face the stark and solid truth that the old mother-in-law has the upper hand and, what’s more, always will.  Now that I am one myself, I feel very unsure of myself at times, and rightly so.  The old type of mother in law was comfortably certain of her place on the family throne, whereas we unsure ones watched them from the servants gallery and vowed we would never be like them.  Well, mostly we are achieving just that, and, in doing so, in approaching with more tact we are making new mistakes.  It is the way of things.

I don’t remember if I promised to obey or not, but what laughs me a lot, is that it matters one way or the other. The animated discussions I have overheard concerning which words are left out and which put in to a wedding ceremony adds a value that most certainly dilutes in time. I suppose in the olden days, if someone didn’t obey or honour or cherish and it was brought to the Judgement Mound and proclaimed before the Wise Men, and if it was found to be true, due punishment would have been administered, its legacy, shame.  Nowadays, the Judgement Mounds are covered with heather and bluebells, their ancient role all but forgotten.

After the fluffery wuffery of the wedding, and the first halcyon days of playing house, the serious business of life clicks in.  We put away the wedding dress and don the apron.  It’s not a bad, but a good thing, because scrubbing a floor in a wedding dress is asking for trouble. So, we move on into our new days, we two people who have made the biggest decision of our lives.  No maps are handed out.  We will now sail into uncharted waters, learning from each other and working day by day to weave a new cloth from the colours each one brought to the mix, very different colours, different histories, different understanding of light and dark, texture and balance, give and take, up and down.  Who will lead and who will follow?  Who will let go and who will hold on.  Who thinks of solutions and who chews over the disaster?  None of this has really been revealed as yet for neither of us have stood the test, not yet.  Falling in love is a momentary thing.  Staying there, when things begin to annoy and upset, letting them take their place in the weaving of the cloth when all you want to see are the vibrant colours of joy and happiness, is quite another.  The trick is to let that happen without feeling a sense of loss.  The trick is not to imagine this woman is trying to mother me, when she shouts at me for sock-dropping, or that this man is trying to control and contain me, when he challenges the cut of my dress  The trick is, the trick is………

The goodly thing about Goodly Life is that it keeps waking us up each morning with birdsong or Chris Evans or the dooby doo of an alarm clock, or a baby’s wail, or that eerie silence that tells you it snowed overnight.  We keep waking, we keep feeling hungry, needing a walk, a cup of tea, a chat with a friend.  Our brains must plan school mornings, bus time-tables, train schedules and packed lunch boxes.  This is it, this is life and this, shared, keeps us moving through our daily rounds, bumping into each other, working out the best way to do this or not do that, until gradually we weave ourselves into one cloth.

If any of us knew what lay ahead, we might never begin.  How we learn to deal with whatever comes along, is all in the strength of that cloth, the warp and weft of it, the necessary tension, the edging.  When storms prevail and loud black clouds hang overhead all packed with lightning flash and cold wet rain, we can use this cloth for shelter and warmth, but it will only give back what we have woven into it.  The history we make together is not solely of our own pasts, but it is a new thing.  We bring in children, carving their histories out for them, at least, in the very beginning. Each of us is a new creature, with unique quirks and gifts, thoughts and concerns.  Each one of us sees a thing differently, even if we mostly agree on the image it creates in our minds.  However,  there is one thing I have found to be almost universal, and that is the instant and unconditional love a parent feels for their child.  I know life can sour a relationship, but after the angry words are spoken and the protection in place, I still believe this love surpasses all other loves, and it never fails to astonish on first encounter.  I remember it each time a babe was born from me, that however scared I may have been of dangers unknown, I knew I would protect this child’s life with my own, and I still would.

At this end of a verrrrrry long marriage, there is a very colourful cloth around us, five colourful children and their families.  Nobody could say we quietly got on with our lives together, obeying the rules, but, instead, raved against the wrongs, laughed and lived wildly, generously, and mostly in complete chaos.  On this day, we look at each other and we both marvel.  How on earth we managed, against all the odds, to be celebrating 43 years together, even all ‘vowed up’, is a mystery, and not just to us.

What larks!