In a gorgeous old hotel, we sat with our sandwiches and cakes. High tea. Celebrators and faters left after only an hour. We lingered on talking of movies and films of books and songs and art. You are too old to know who Ed Sheeran is but I know you love music and lyrics with love written deep beneath the lines. I share the video of Thinking Out Loud with you and remember how you and Dad loved to dance.
There was a whole life you lived before I came, an accidental child who you told was deeply loved, but attention was scarce. I understand better now, you were both products of your generation, born out of the deprivation of war and economic depression. My sister talks about a biography of Ned Kelly’s mother she is reading and for readers who don’t know Ned was a bushranger who stole from the rich, not unlike Robin Hood who underwent a very painful childhood. His mother had children to three fathers and Ned found his way to prison early in life.
We speak of how now, children are fated with attention and so many gifts, its something you don’t understand, possibly a backlash and a 180 degree turn for that generation who never knew war or deprivation.
Under the table though your legs are aching. As my sister leaves the table you feel free enough to shed a tear, I am crying too as I touch you narrow hand enclosing it with mine, feeling the love the flows through from child to mother ,from mother to child my mother land.
And a thought occurred to me while we were talking that here in Australia it is mother’s day but how are we celebrating the earth, who is really the ground of our being and the mother to us all, are we aware of how much we burden it with consumption perhaps gone rogue due to earlier deprivations and fears which have fallen into unconsciousness or been swallowed down with mother’s milk.?
You and my father struggled so much and when he was gone, I went out and struggled alone. On that first Christmas following his death you called me in Switzerland asking me to come home, but I was gone on drugs and booze, and then fell pregnant, my friends left me in that cold country alone. And by the time I came back you were married again, but the aching for my father never went away.
It seems for so long I have been trying to find my way back to you, my mother land. You are a hunger that beats in my breast, you are a knowing and wounds I often wear invisibly inside, imprints that call on me in early mornings and at dusk when Nana left you alone with only a stone from the fire to warm your cold bed. Was it any wonder you cried this afternoon and that your legs ached. I hope it wasn’t too much taking you out, it was the way we both tried to show you how grateful we are and how much you are cared for.
Do we really know all of the silent griefs our mothers carry, how they hoped for so much more but could only give what they could give out of fate? Do we know of their silent struggles? Do we think to ask?
So for today I am grateful for what you have tried to give. I remember the many times I turned away because to allow myself to want or depend would make me too vulnerable. I see the pain I caused myself and others, but none of it was intentional. And today I can say I love you more than words can say, that I see and understand and that for as long as you need me in these final years. I will be there.