Good afternoon O, M and L! Across the world in your current home countries one or two of you N’s might still be sleeping as I begin to write this post, it’s around 3:45am and 5:45am where you are, 2:45pm for me. Last night when I went to bed I set an alarm for 5am this morning so that I could haul myself out of bed and onto the couch with my earphones to take part in a free online writing workshop with Rupi Kaur on Instagram live. The following piece is one of the three pieces that materialized onto my page this morning and it is dedicated to your Granny (my Mam) since today is the day when Mother’s Day is celebrated in many places around the world, including NZ. I’m not sure why ours is normally in March instead, or who decides what dates these sorts of things should be celebrated in different countries, but I rolled with the exercise anyway as I figured it was as good a time as any to revisit the Granny Diaries (an area of this blog that I have clearly neglected, since I am only getting around to Part Two now!) This morning I sat beneath the lamp in the lounge so as not to wake the whole house at that too-dark hour of the morning and joined another 4,000-or-so people watching around the world, listening to Rupi and allowing her to guide us in a free-writing session. I wasn’t sure what to expect from it, but I am so glad I didn’t roll over and go back to sleep when my alarm went off, as this workshop really unlocked something for me. The words flowed much more easily than they have done in weeks, months, maybe even longer than that, so I am grateful to Rupi for organising the workshop giving us some prompts and just generally being an inspiration. All three exercises used ‘the body’ as a medium, to explore different themes and I have to say I am pretty pleased to share the resulting pieces of writing with you over the next few days. The first of the three is in the form of a letter, and none of them really rhyme – so you will see they are not my usual style at all, but I’m quite proud of them.
A Letter for (second) Mother’s Day
It’s not our Mother’s Day, but it is in New Zealand. When I moved back here a few years ago I said “aren’t you so lucky you’ll get both?” but in truth I never really followed through on that. So here goes.
Your eyes are my eyes. The only ones that match mine, I mean, in our family. They sought out the way for me and forged a path ahead. Your eyes saw everything about the world before I did. They saw it all and didn’t tell me any secrets unless I asked. You knew what to let me see for myself.
Your hair, like mine, has changed throughout the years. Though maybe not as many times or quite as many colours. In the photo of you in the blue dress it was dark like mine. My face was in that photo too, hiding somewhere inside yours. A few times now, when by chance our hair has happened to be the same colour at the same time, people have told me I’m the image of you. I don’t mind it at all. I’d rather bring you with me in my face or eyes or hair, than not have you with me at all.
Your hands held me from the start. They’ve taken the full weight of my head and heart at times. They have supported me through dark times and light. You use them to give me everything you can, even now. Your hands are cooked meals, rushed night-before-knitting saving my hopeless Home Ec homework, typists hands that helped to earn the money for the meals, soothing hands that stroked my hair for comfort when that’s what I needed.
Your spine is not much longer than mine and yet when I think of you, the image in my head always stands taller than your 5-foot-odd. Your spine has been there supporting you even before it was helping to support me. It has held your own head high through dark times and light. Here you are still surviving and thriving, spine intact. Your backbone is not as fragile as people might think. Not at all.
Your elbow playfully nudges my ribs even from continents away. I can hear you making jokes at me and laughing with me like you’re in the room. Your sense of fun is palpable and if there’s anything I learned from you it is simply how to enjoy. You showed me how to find the special moments and savour them when I can. Eyes closed, chin tilted up towards the sun, soaking in every last degree of warmth it has to offer us. A gift.
Your legs are short, but not quite as short as mine. Your legs end in feet with squarish sort of toes that we’ve laughed about but you love them, square and all. Your legs start in hips that always seem to work against you, but like your spirit, your legs will not be held back by any self-important hips that think they know better. Your legs have taken you, step by step, through every day of your life til now and all across the world on epic travels. They are fearless and strong. You are fearless and strong. So I am too.