The View from Here: thoughts…

… in the space between International Women’s Day and Mothering Sunday

pink-bow-ribbon-clipart-1For a week or so, I have been considering drafting a Mother’s Day post. It would have been one of my rambles, perhaps on my role as a mother and as a daughter.  But today (I am writing on Thursday March 8th) leaves me wanting to pare down my usual florid style and take a different tack.  In the end, I don’t know that I’ve done a lot of paring.  But what I want to say matters to me.  It stands as it is.

I was in Looe today.  One week ago, the town was experiencing a blizzard and a young girl died.  Today the town is bathed in bright sunshine and everywhere there are pink ribbons.  How easily life can be taken.  A life is extinguished and the lives of those around the space that remains are forever changed.

When I got home from Looe I learned that a lady from my former village – a woman filled with spirit, flair and vivacity – had died a day or so ago.  She was not a close friend, but she was someone I knew well enough, and had great respect for.  She was highly intelligent and multi-talented.  She was fully involved in the life of the village. She was mother to three – perhaps four – daughters, and grandmother to a large brood from teenagers to toddlers.  She helped with them all. She was an active member of the book group, the history group.  She cooked; she gardened; she drew immensely detailed works of art; she had fashion sense par excellence.  She was seemingly in good health and brimming with vitality.  Her death was a complete shock to everyone who knew her.  Adrienne was a strong and beautiful woman.  It is difficult to think of the village, her husband, her family, with her gone.

But she is gone, as is little Maisie from Looe.  The lives of their families are forever changed in a single inexplicable moment.  And of course, this happens constantly, the world over, frequently in more brutal, more shocking, more senseless ways than either of these two losses which have this week crossed my path.

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If I had been writing this for Mother’s Day, I would have been focusing on my own mother and my relationship with her.  It hasn’t always been smooth sailing.  We had our ups and downs like most mothers and daughters, but I’ve never doubted her passion and devotion to her family.  As I’ve grown older myself, I’ve found a place of love and appreciation for Mum and everything she has contributed to our lives and our family.  I like to think we’ve found an appreciation of each other. And remembering my intention at the top of this post, I shall say simply: thank you, Mum; I love you.

Mum celebrated her 81st birthday a fortnight ago.  I’m so pleased that we were able to celebrate with her, for of course, what she wanted was to celebrate with her family.  There was an extended family celebration for Mum’s 80th : for her 81st the gathering was smaller and more informal but no less special.  Mum coped well and she enjoyed herself.  Like Adrienne, Mum has been the lynchpin of the family for many years.  She is frail and more vulnerable these days and that role is more of a challenge for her now, but she still has her moments; she remains the matriarch.  She has always been a strong woman and she remains so, even on her less good days.  And when we enjoyed Sunday lunch on a steam train with her and Dad on her actual birthday, she looked beautiful, inside and out.  81 years young.

Happy Birthday, Mum.

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Love and loss: death in any guise is indiscriminate as it lays its fingers on lives, hopes and dreams. It visits equally among men as among women, so forgive me for seemingly focussing on just half the population.  With it being International Women’s Day as I write, and with Mothering Sunday imminent in the UK, perhaps it’s excusable that I’m thinking about women.  A little girl lost to her mother and her family at the beginning of her life; a woman lost to her daughters and her family very much later in hers.  Both tragedies; both stark reminders of the fragility of life and the immediacy with which we must try to live it.

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A short while after I closed the file on this piece last night, thinking I’d look at it again in the morning and make a decision on whether to publish,  came news of another woman, very much alive despite love, loss and death looming large in her life over recent years.  I’ve followed Ellie’s story through her mother’s blog and occasionally through her own.  Visceral, raw, angry, bloody-mindedly determined, the champion of the world (as she called herself in her blog) exemplifies one woman’s strength when it comes to her family.  Emulating Margaret’s example on International Women’s Day, I link to Ellie’s story here.  I link, not necessarily to encourage anyone to contribute to Ellie’s fundraising – though I’m sure any contributions would be appreciated – but as an example of how challenges can be tackled head on and life can still be lived to the full despite everything.  The more I think about it, the more examples come to mind. People overcome, people rise to the challenge all the time, every day.  Ellie is remarkable.  People are remarkable.

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Perhaps this is just a reminder to myself for I’m reminded of my tag line:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

And I remember that we don’t have to do wild things, or courageous things, or big, bold and dramatic things.  We simply have to notice whatever it is that we see, whatever small things that we do.  The little, everyday things are perhaps more challenging to notice in all their ordinariness and yet every bit as important, for most of the time the little things are what life is.  We are forced to be present to death.  We must remember to be present to life too – in all its guises.

Let’s notice and appreciate.

Let’s embrace every precious moment of life while we can.

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36 thoughts on “The View from Here: thoughts…”

  1. Thank you for a lovely, sensitive post, and for highlighting my daughter’s story. You might like to know that she’s had ‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’ pinned in her kitchen for years.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is a really, really moving post, Sandra. When death hits close to home, especially unexpected death, it does set us back on our heels and make us re-think everything. And, if we live better and fuller, then something a little good has come from death, I guess. And I love that you include Ellie’s amazing story–I’ve followed her, too, and she has a lot to teach us all about living!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Lovely post despite the sadness of its subject. Indeed, death can strike at any time, which is why I’m with you in thinking that we need to concentrate on making the most of life, in whatever way we choose to do that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. FF thank you 🙂 We certainly agree on making the most of life, each in his or her way, and your recent review of the Greig book is still in my mind. We do differ though – I agree with your sentiments yet I’d probably be drawn to that book, melancholy soul that I am… That said – wait til you see what my classics club choice is…. Oh dear me!!!

      Chocolate will be mandatory and donations will be gratefully received 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, I’ll let you read the Greig then, but still allow you to come to my merrymaking party afterwards – how’s that? Haha – if it helps, I don’t seem to remember The Bell Jar being as depressing as the blurb makes it sound… I think.

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  4. Beautifully written. That Mary Oliver quote is endlessly inspiring. Knowing that life is so fragile, what will we do with it? I read a lot of books about ageing and death. A recent one I’d recommend — and it’s really designed to be read and discussed with relatives — is With the End in Mind by Kathryn Mannix. If your mum is open to it and the time seems right, it could be a good one to work through together.

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  5. Rebecca, thank you 🙂 I’m guessing you reviewed this book on your own blog – I missed it if so. It’s certainly a book that interests me. Perhaps not for Mum, but definitely worth reading. Thanks again

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  6. Gosh, this page is certainly the place to meet old blogging friends. I forwarded this post to Ellie, Sandra and she loved it. Her ‘one wild and precious life’ is being spent this afternoon with 4 young pre-teens at a Bolton Wanderers’ match. Not her choice…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ouch! Rather her than me, Margaret! I hope they won!

      I’m glad Ellie liked the post. I looked for ways to ask your/her permission beforehand but couldn’t see how to do that privately. I decided to emulate Ellie and go for it: live my own wild and precious life and publish!

      🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sandra, what a beautiful post. It is strange because just before I came to it I was thinking of a dear friend who died suddenly from cancer a few years ago in her early-forties. And, exactly as you say, I was thinking about how you never know what is around the corner, as well as how people leave a hole and yet we adapt, we mould, we carry on. Thank you very much for sharing these wise thoughts, allowing us the space to reflect on our own experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 🙂 Thanks, Liz. Coincidence, synchronicity, when thoughts/events coincide? It was the combination of events in my immediate orbit that prompted the post itself. Perhaps the same phenomenon continues here with you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What a lovely, thoughtful, reflective post – enjoy your mother while you can. My mother was the mainstay of our family fr many years, caring for us and always there when we needed someone – and she did so many things, reading, painting, embroidery, gardening. Now, sadly, she has dementia and is no longer able to enjoy many of her former activities, and our roles are reversed as we try to ensure she is safe and happy.

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    1. Chris, thank you, and yes you’re absolutely right. We’re looking forward to having Mum & Dad stay with us in June. They live in Kent so it’s a challenging journey for them both. They are adamant they can manage it and plan a week down here in a lovely hotel and then time with us. Their zest for life remains undimmed despite age and frailty 🙂

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  9. What a wonderful, thoughtful, feeling and touching post this is. Agree with Margaret that our interests for the same bloggers is amazing, and it also says something about all our feelings for each others’ life & their interests….
    I have no idea why I never saw this post, but better late to the party than not at all. When I think of Ellie, the short phrase always, always jumps to my mind: Wild women don’t get the blues…. The few times I want to give in to misery, I think of her and what she had to suffer, of how she coped with all the problems life threw at her and I’m very still and thankful for my minor problems.
    I’m a bit troubled by all those Mother’s Day dates. First one in March for my English friends, than the Swiss/German/and I think American one on the 2nd Sunday of May plus the last Sunday of May for the French mums….. Missed out on the English mothers already and shall have to apologize in personal phone calls.
    Losing people/friends/children/parents in such unexpected ways is especially horrible and heartbreaking. Don’t know what happened to the little girl in Looe, don’t need to know but my heart is bleeding for the family and friends. The 21yr old son of very good friends of ours died in a bike accident on his first long ‘away from home trip’ and was part of a planned 3 months stint in South America. I’ve known him as a very young boy and still can’t believe he’s no longer… It brings many priorities to our consciousness, doesn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It certainly does, Kiki. I realise loss is a part of life; it’s inevitable. It’s never something that we get used to though. As for Mother’s Days – I hadn’t realised how many there are! I knew ours differed from in the USA and Australia but goodness – within Europe too! With your cross-borders family you must struggle to keep up!

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  10. Such a lovely, loving post, Sandra. It touched my heart and also reminded me of the complexity of mother-daughter relationships. By its very nature, this relationship is meant to both challenge and strengthen us, but along the way, both mother and daughter get tested and sometimes bruised. I’m also reminded that parenthood requires humans to be saints at the very time when they are still figuring out what it is to be human.

    Liked by 1 person

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