March 7th, 2013…
The bruised and abused hip that took the worst of a fall last week is telling me, quite pointedly, to turn the other cheek… or at least shift the weight there if I’m going to sit here much longer. Not that the other one is any better… that one has problems all of its own. The hands are playing up again… catching much of the fall on one wrist wasn’t the best of ideas either. There is an expression in English idiom, rather coarse and snow-related, that describes the state of my eyes this morning and let us not even mention the shoulder muscles knotted tighter than one of Garth Knight’s rope sculptures. And really, a small dog, who is small in relative terms only (relative, say, to a golden retriever or small horse) who stands on my knee and plonks her backside on my shoulder as I try to type, is no substitute for a massage.
Still, I have a day off today.
I will not be sitting at my desk or easel, I am going out.
Stop it now. I can hear the sharp intake of shocked breathing even from here. In self-defence it is not a dereliction of duty in favour of mere pleasure. There will be much humping of wheelchairs in and out of the car, not an easy task for a little ageing lady. Neither the MR2 nor I was built to carry a wheelchair. But given the choice of manhandling (or woman-handling, as the case may be) and wriggling the dismantled chair in behind the seats or changing the car for something more practical, the car came first.
I love my little old car. She is tiny, mischievous, a little worn and wrinkled around the edges, perhaps, and has obviously seen better days in terms of performance and speed. She does tend to dance unexpectedly in the rain, is not the most practical of things at first glance, but she is a surprisingly good workhorse. She needs a little TLC, and would benefit from a thorough overhaul at her age, but keeps going regardless. She came to me because of love and she is kept on the road, held together with love and is coaxed to life daily with gentle words and yet more love. We have a lot more in common than just size, she and I. The mechanic at the garage laughed at me indulgently when I picked her up, the other day, catching me saying hello out loud and telling her how I’d missed her.
I can’t help it. She’s beautiful.
She symbolises all the things I cherish, from love to freedom. In her silver shell I can sing with the best, think and dream and she has seen every emotion from laughter and excitement to grief and pain. Her leather has caught my tears and her stereo played back the laughter and songs my heart cannot write. She has carried gardens and paintings, dreams and longing. She carries me like the wind across the landscape, following the call of my soul.
And she was my son’s unnecessary thank you gift. How can I not love her?
But today she will have to behave. She is a taxi. We have places to go with my son, at both ends of the day and a lot of work to do in between. Shopping and cooking for the ‘lads night’ at his home, paperwork and housekeeping and lots of talking and laughing, as usual.
He gave me another gift yesterday, he and his clever, talented Faith. Don’t tell either of them, but I sat here and cried over it when I got home. It is Mother’s Day here on Sunday, and Nick couldn’t wait to show me what Faith had done… she has captured him beautifully, apart from the elvish details she added, continuing the Hobbit saga you may have noticed around here. The relative height is accurate.
Nick said he had to sit still while she drew. I was taken from an old photo when my hair was longer. But although Faith did the artwork, the message inside was handwritten by my son. With his right hand. The one that was paralysed. And it is beautiful.
My younger son is cooking for me on Sunday. Nothing grand, just a meal home-cooked and shared with love. It is the simplest things that touch me the deepest every time and I think it is the same for most of us. I was given an incredible gift recently, but it was the why that brought me to tears. The why matters far more than the what. The love and care behind a gift, the time taken out of a busy day to think and be there. A vista from a hilltop, a memory, a life opened and shared from the heart…a jar of coffee in the post, or a hand drawn card. To me these are more precious than gold. Because, no matter what name we give it, the one thing behind them all is love.