The word that keeps floating into my head today is ‘contrasts.’ In part, it is driven by the US Election results and the differences between Biden and Trump, even though they are similar in terms of being older, white males.
It is also to the fore because November is a month of curious contrasts and ones which I seem to notice more and be more appreciative of because of what can sometimes seem like the greyness of the month.
This morning, it is dull and dank here with cloud almost touching our heads but as I was coming in our gate a glint of bright orange caught my eye from the Berberis bush and the Mahonia out the back has turned her gleaming yellow lights on as if putting on a bedside light in the depths of night.
The contrast that has perhaps struck me most relates to mindsets. Joe Biden’s litany of personal tragedies would be enough to defeat a huge number of people. His courage in the face of such hard knocks is nothing short of inspirational. I have no idea how he will fare as President but I think he has shown that there are alternatives to giving up in the face of adversity.
We do not live an equal life, but one of contrasts and patchwork; now a little joy, then a sorrow, now a sin, then a generous or brave action.
So, the clocks fell back in Ireland last night but the three dogs that populate our house are still tuned in to Summertime.
They sleep in different rooms because they have very different personalities and preferences but once one hears me opening even one eye, the morning chorus begins.
Mornings are a magical time for me as I am the person who gets to experience the three of them greeting the day.
Puppy Stan does a special dizzying twirl when he sees me coming and sometimes I wonder if he will take up hammer throwing for the inaugural doggy Olympics. He races around the garden as if doing training laps and then whizzes into the kitchen in search of his breakfast.
Meanwhile, the flying saucer upstairs has leapt from his bed and tears down the stairs like a man on a mission. He’s the fluffy mixum-gatherum one who is totally besotted with son.
Last,but very much not least, is the gentle hound, who always catches my eye with a look of gratitude before he dashes towards the garden and a reunion with the fluffy one. They have their garden haunts to check out and then when they see me arriving with breakfast, the gentle hound looks up at me and eyes a ‘thank you’ before he even glances at his dish.
When I let that pair in again, the fluffy one plays games trying to ensure that he his reunited with son ASAP.
The gentle hound always manages to find a bit of my bare flesh and kisses me with his wet nose. I so love him for his sweet gestures.
They are all quiet now but their contentment is nothing to mine after this life-enhancing show of love, appreciation and sheer exuberance through such different doggy personalities.
There was a ferocious thunderstorm here last night and I am still trying to get over the mad panic that engulfed me. I fear lightening more than most things in life and it certainly didn’t help back in my early twenties cowering under the stairs with a girl who lived in a flat beneath mine to hear that her father had been struck dead by lightening.
My own father did his utmost to try and de-sensitize me. He loved storms and would stand by a window watching the flashes over the sea. I was half alright when he was there to hide behind but only barely …..
Anyway, the storm has passed, as they tend to, and I went in search of a quote to celebrate. This is the one that caught my eye:
Joy weathers any storm; Happiness rides the waves.
It’s Mother’s anniversary today – eleven years on.
She adored poppies and this one was in her garden.
She gave us an undying love for nature which I see as one of the most precious gifts any parent can give a child.
Long before anyone was talking about mindfulness, she had us engrossed in our little plots in the garden, lost in the joy of bird-watching, merged with the moods of the sea, enraptured by fleeting rainbows….
Yes, she ensured that her presence would live on through natural beauty and it is a presence that never fails to make me smile.
There is no point denying it. This week feels very raw … still … It is the week during which my Mother had her final stroke eleven years ago, just 45 minutes or so after being told that Father was dying downstairs in the Emergency Department of the same hospital she was in.
It was the stuff of absolute nightmares to witness. I don’t think of the final week of Mother’s life all that often but come May 24th, it hits me every time from the depths of memory. Dad wasn’t dying, as it turned out, and it still plays on my mind how she felt she could die, given that she wouldn’t be leaving him alone.
They were extremely close and it would have been fitting for the two of them to have gone together but, for me, it was a blessing to have Dad around for another 16 months. He was sad, he certainly was, but being him, I think he knew he was doing his fatherly thing by being there to share the sadness with me and to bring me right into his life and share memories which are now a great source of solace and joy.
The sun is beating down, just as it did that last week of Mother’s life. I am drawn to the garden where I want to tend my precious plants and introduce new growth. I am also drawn to the sea, the sea that Mother and I soaked in, in every sense, all our lives.
I know that this sense of ‘that week’ will subside again when we get to June. In the meantime, I think of people who have been unfortunate enough to have to go through both parents dying within days of each other from Covid. Their hearts must be shattered. I just hope they have the possibility of being able to come to a time when memories will not be about the dying week but of shared times of joy.
Now, to the garden to inspect the progress of the new seedlings and the blooming of ‘Happy Dream’ rose as well as the blue geraniums …..