“As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
This is why I write here.
I grieve tremendously some days, while on other days there is only a dull ache in my chest. Sometimes this dull ache becomes a blaring, intense blast of grief – of longing and love simultaneously.
But if I take that ache, or that intensity, and I turn it into words on a page – it doesn’t so much subside, but instead it transforms into something else. Something positive, something shared. To share is to lighten the load, as Mum would say – and that is what I am doing.
Thank you for reading – thank you for listening.
I will continue to lighten the load, and continue to show creative force as I write here, on this page.
We moved a lot as kids. Dad was a policeman, so we moved for the job. Then when Dad left, we moved for a cheaper house.
Mum had also moved house a lot before she had us. She said it was her gypsy blood. I think she just liked the clean out, the fresh start, the packing and unpacking – all the things that go with moving.
The first ritual of a new house was to unpack the ‘essentials’ box – this had the following:
- the kettle
- mugs and spoons (you can’t have coffee in a plastic cup)
- a blanket to sit on
- ashtray (mum never went far without one)
- fruit boxes for us kids, or cordial or something similar
- toilet paper
- pen and paper – as well as all The Lists
- masking tape
- white sage incense
Mum would plug in the kettle, send Dad for milk and give us kids a biscuit and a drink. We’d sit on the floor and have our first picnic in our new house.
Next – we needed to rid the house of evil spirits. Mum would light the white sage incense and proceed to walk through the house into all the rooms. To chase out the bad omens and evil spirits, she said.
I don’t think Dad appreciated this ritual so much – thus why he had to go get the milk. He would come home and scrunch up his nose.
But us kids liked it. The smell meant home and safety.
Even now, if I’m going through ‘a rough patch’, I’ll burn some white sage. Waft it about. I might even have a picnic on the floor with a biscuit and a coffee. Give the incense some time to chase out the bad vibes.
You are standing at the sink tea-towel over the shoulder, doing the dishes. Explaining my little brother’s homework to him as you do. My sister and I are also at the kitchen table, all of us doing our homework. Dinner is on the stove – we are having sausages, mash and peas tonight. My favourite.
Dad comes home from work and kisses each of us kids on the top of the head.
He goes to you. He first cheekily pinches you on the bum. You curse him, but smile as you do so. He does it again, and you whip him with the tea-towel. This doesn’t deter him, and this time he slaps you gently on the bum, while laughing with us kids. While smiling (you are always smiling) you chase him around the kitchen, flicking your tea-towel at him as you do. The chase turns and he is now after you, making kissing noises with his lips. Us kids cheer as you both run around and around the kitchen.
Finally, you let him catch up and he grabs you and gives you the most passionate kiss I will ever witness. He dips you in the kitchen and you stare at each other for a moment, smiling.
You flick him one last time with the tea-towel and it is back to dinner and homework.
You are in love with my Dad.
I have this photograph. It is stuck on the wall above my desk. It is of a girl with blond curly hair and big blue eyes. She is cheekily licking an orange spoon covered in chocolate cake mix. It is her mother’s spoon, they have made a cake together. And whenever she is to see that spoon in later life, she will think of this photograph and remember the bond she shares with her mother. She is wearing navy blue overalls with small white buttons and red skivvy. The picture is taken on a slant, and because of this, it is possible to hear the giggles of the child and of her mother, the photographer, as she clicks the shutter closed.