This day 5 years ago – 13th April 2010 – my mum had a brain hemorrhage and spent a month in hospital. Amazingly, she lived.
Every day is a gift and more than anything; that day, that day, brought it home to me how precious life is as moments slip between fingers into the cracks of memory.
On the first year anniversary of that day, 13th April, we spent the day out in the West End of Glasgow. Here’s an extract of what I wrote then in a blog post called ‘West End Day’:
Had a fun day out in the West End yesterday with the madre. It was a year to the day since… and we wanted to make it special.
Was it a coincidence that browsing through a box of old postcards in a vintage shop I found a bundle of Marine Art Poster postcards and I knew before I saw it there was going to be one depicting the very ship that began my mother’s journey from the place of her birth to the rest of her life?
The Cunard line ship that brought home my Mother and my Nana from South Africa in 1946 – the Samaria. The one I researched for hours online and described in my prose for ‘the family saga’ with a searing accuracy? I was stunned and elated to secure that postcard.
This discovery sparked a recounting of remembered events and experiences, all entirely pertinent to the plot at hand. Had I known that the Samaria had in fact been chopped up for match wood at the end of its useful life? No.
How many matches – 500,000? 500,000,000? A billion? How many stories did that ship have the pleasure (or the pain) of igniting in its lifetime? How many lives did it unwittingly touch?
And then: a gift for me.
An original copy of Tamara De Lempicka’s ‘Girl with Gloves’.
When I was studying Higher Art I was obsessed with chiaroscuro and the artists that painted or drew in that technique (still am.)
My mum said that day it was a gift of “a beautiful woman, from a beautiful woman, to a beautiful woman.”
Art Deco elegance, that careful poise, the coy but somehow sad tipping of the wide-brimmed hat. The enduring sage of her dress that sometimes appears emerald, other times dampened chartreuse. She is herself a Pandora of possible – and impossible – interpretations and from now on she will be my muse. My lady luck with the joyous curls and sharp gloves concealing vixen-talons.
What a wonderful, wild-weathered whisper of a day. How I never thought we would have another 5 years together of chatter and laughing and bickering and dancing. But we did and we have. Here’s to the next 5, 10, 15, 20, 25…
It was significant. Today is significant. Every day is significant.
PS. And today there was cake! A Victoria sponge with fresh cream and jam!