My Mum was a passionate woman. A maelstrom of colour and creativity. Always making something, or growing something. A lick of paint and a sewing machine and she made the shabbiest of places a home. She could turn a piece of plywood into a master piece. She sewed, knit, embroidered, painted, gardened, made miniatures and did it all with a great passion and an absolute certainty that she was screwing it up!
She wasn’t a patient woman. She was quick to joy and quicker to anger. If she took a dislike to someone they got no space in her life. I never knew her to be wrong in that matter. Anyone she instantly disliked invariably was an arsehole! Her judgements were swift and unbending. Her harshest judgement was of herself.
She was her fathers daughter but right till the last months of her life she was sure he had disliked her. She cried when I told her all the nice things he’d said to me about her. How my Mummy was beautiful and much too smart to have a dumb old Dad like him. She thought I lit up his life. She had not known how she lit up his life first.
My Grandad was also passionate. A storm of music and light. He wrote, photographed, gardened, played the fiddle and worked with wood. He could turn any piece of ground into a fertile haven. He rode all over Scotland on his motorbike and yet all of his photographs are of family…loads of my Mum.
He made his own fiddle but the only way you could hear him play it was if you snuck up to the house when he was home alone. I snuck in and taped him one day. Then I asked him to listen to the tape, saying it was a friend of mine. He was impressed and really liked the music until I told him it was actually him. Then he said it was rubbish and took the tape from me.
He wasn’t a patient man. He was least patient with himself.
They both married patient, calm people. Stubborn even! They were loved even if they felt they didn’t deserve it. My Granny was my Grandads rock. My Dad was my Mums wings and he gave her courage to fly.
I put 3000 miles between my Mum and I. A thing I have felt much guilt about, especially after my Dad died. How ever, I think it might have been the making of us. We wrote letters and made phone calls and became friends. We hung out for an hour on facetime every day and showed each other what we’d made. She was convinced she was a terrible mother. I told her she did the best she could with the tools she had just like her Dad had done the best he could with the tools he had.
I am my Mothers daughter. With a sewing machine and a lick of paint I can make a home out of a cardboard box. I write , paint, garden, spin, weave. She taught me to sew, knit, embroider. She taught me how to judge myself too fat, too lazy, too stupid by how she judged herself. She hated that she taught me self loathing. We bolstered each other in her last decade. We celebrated each others creativity. We gushed and admired and loved and told all the good feelings that we had not mentioned before. I was her favourite person…she told me so.
I am my Mothers daughter and I know how loved I was.