Every time I make a prawn tartine
Every time your picture catches light
Sometimes, when I dwell upon a scene
A memory old, a laugh, a cry, a fight
Old or new
I think of you
Knees uh toes…
– Arddun, 11 June
The old man
We all fall down.
– Arddun, 18 June
Yes. Only a mother would think this blogworthy.
A few years ago, The Cuz and I each took up the challenge of writing an internet meme titled “I am the girl”. Each of our memes started out as a self-description, but quickly turned into a love letter to family and friends.
Anyhoo… I just found a paragraph that my mother had written out in full on a piece of paper.
I am the girl who is always your girl. I am the girl who now lives across a slip of ocean and vast desert plains, and who still remains your girl. I am the girl who makes you cry when you think of my dying before you, who doesn’t always know how to deal with such candour, but who never, ever forgot. I am the girl who remembers Jesus in her upbringing because of you. I am the girl who has always needed your validation. I am the girl who yells at you in fits, and feels like an ogre later. I am the girl you stayed up nights to chat with – although mostly you listened and understood. I am the girl you played Rummy and chua-dai-di with, whom you taught over time how to win with grace and how to lose with good humour. I am the girl you’ve always defended against lashing tongues and sugar-coated deceit, even though I didn’t always take heed. I am the girl who is fast running out of gift ideas for you.
I guess my mother found her paragraph.
I am finally sorting through my mother’s things in earnest. Yesterday, I woke up with a keen sense of wanting to get things done, and the feeling didn’t pass by this morning. After a very slow start to the morning (try rushing a toddler, while still respecting her limitations and independence), I almost bulldozed husband and child out the door, before settling down to fill up boxes.
I’ve only stopped because of this poem scribbled on a slip of paper. My mother, I am learning through this packing process, kept a lot of journals and prayer diaries. She didn’t blog and didn’t do the whole Dear Diary… but God was her diary, her sounding board, her fount of wisdom. Really.
For those of you who think I write well, for those of you who keep urging me to write a book, I just want you to know that this ability to put thoughts on paper came from somewhere. In this last week, I’ve only just really come to understand how much I’ve always been my mother’s daughter.
I found this poem that she had scribbled on a scrap of paper about 25 years old (can tell from the letterhead), and even though she didn’t compose this one, it could just as easily have come from her heart.
A Real Christian
A real Christian is an odd number anyway.
He feels supreme love for One whom he has never seen,
talks familiarly every day to Someone he cannot see,
expects to go to heaven on the virtue of Another,
empties himself in order to be full,
admits he is wrong so that he can be declared right,
goes down in order to get up
is strongest when he is weakest,
richest when he is poorest and
happiest when he feels worst.
He dies so he can live,
forsakes in order to have,
gives away so he can keep,
sees the invisible, hears the inaudible and knows that which passes knowledge.
~ A.W. Tozer
slow down mummy, there is no need to rush,
slow down mummy, what is all the fuss?
slow down mummy, make yourself a cup tea.
Slow down mummy, come and spend some time with me.
slow down mummy, let’s put our boots on and go out for a walk,
let’s kick at piles of leaves, and smile and laugh and talk.
slow down mummy, you look ever so tired,
come sit and snuggle under the duvet and rest with me a while.
slow down mummy, those dirty dishes can wait,
slow down mummy, let’s have some fun, let’s bake a cake!
slow down mummy I know you work a lot,
but sometimes mummy, it’s nice when you just stop.
sit with us a minute,
& listen to our day,
spend a cherished moment,
because our childhood is not here to stay!
Tony and I aren’t terribly mushy to each other. We have mushy moments, but I think we communicate affection best through humour and reruns of West Wing, rather than in Hallmarkesque prose. Which is why I’ve deliberated over writing this post – for someone who really doesn’t like calling attention to himself, this post could turn out to be the complete opposite of a Nice Father’s Day gesture for Tony.
So as a means of insurance, I’ll also state that this post is primarily for Arddun’s sake. Because I pray she’ll grow up fabulous, and I know she’ll grow up loved by her daddy. And I also know there’s going to be some spots in her life when she will think she hates her parents. And decide she’ll let them know about it in so many words and actions.
So Arddun, if you’re reading this in the future and you’re mad with your father, here’s what your relationship with your father was like when you were 14½ months old.
Your daddy’s girl
And he is the first man in your life.
The first you see when you awake
The last you cuddle before sleep
All frantic, excited, whole-body-wave Hellos and Goodbyes
For him alone.
Gets the more muted version.
A non-verbal “Yo. ‘Sup.”
The second word you learnt, after “Boo”.
(You still don’t call me anything.)
His ugg boots, and
His going-out boots, and
His work shoes, and
All. Over. The House.
And then you try and wear them. Sometimes.
The only one who can make your father sing
Very non-Jimmy Barnes songs.
You’ve started counting up to 3
(Except you say “1… 2… wheee!”)
And it’s only because your Daddoh reads
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Because you wouldn’t have him read any other book.
Grow big like the moon
And sparkle like the stars
When the back gate creaks at night
And you’re so excited Daddoh’s home
That you run a victory lap around the kitchen island
Before running into his arms
Every week night.
His eyes go tender
And his heart say things
And both of you have such a way
Of bright’ning up each other’s day
Like no one else can.
Happy Father’s Day, Tony. xx
Ah yes. Trying to get into the routine of praying with Arddun before meal times. We used to be so good at it, but somehow that’s fallen by the wayside. I’m also trying to get back in the habit of reading more books with her. We’ve been rather slack, and keep reading the same ones over and over. No wonder she’s getting bored!
One of the things I love about Koorong here is how cheap some of the books are. Managed to score a hardcover Rhyme Bible for >$15! Yes. You read right. It’s bible stories. In rhyme. How groovy is that!
In the spirit of making prayers and bible stories more
entertaining engaging for Arddun, I’ve cobbled together a couple of “Ta for the Tucker” prayers.
Thank you for my cereal, Lord
And my banana too.
Thank you that we can afford
This special breakfast goo.
LUNCH OR DINNER
Thank you for my food so yum
And thank you for my healthy tum.
I pray as I begin to eat
That I remember to be neat;
Not throw my food right off my chair,
Or make a messy everywhere.
Please bless this home, please bless this meal
And thanks for hearing how I feel.