I’ve been gathering pebbles from all the coves and beaches around me over the last few weeks with a view to trying some ‘pebble art.’
I poured my loot out onto the table in front of the fire this afternoon and waited for inspiration.
Before I knew it, I was tracing my hand and thinking of the power of the sense of touch. Touch can be so electric and sensuous. What kept coming to mine was the way in which touch is so central to our relationships with other people.
Recently, I was getting my hair done and found tears streaming down my cheeks as the hairdresser was towel drying my locks. I simply don’t like when strangers touch my hair. It feels all wrong to me and I crave the gentle touch of my mother running her fingers through it when I was a child.
The towel drying tears quickly turned to a watery smile as I thought of how we’d all run from Father’s offers to dry our hair after swims as he had such thing about making sure that we didn’t get colds and almost tore the heads off us with his vigorous towelling.
The first touch in a romantic relationship can be so special with fingers meeting fingers. What can be so bittersweet about the ending of a relationship is that even one little finger touching another that was so familiar becomes off limits.
How easy it is to take the sense of touch for granted and it’s often only when it’s gone for whatever reason that we appreciate it.
Today has been a day when the word Understand has been playing over and over in my mind. It all started when I playfully said to puppy Stan “You’re the Stan in ‘Understand” on a walk a while after I found him chewing his way through a hardback book of poetry from Ireland called A Fine Statement. (I’d have been raging with any other animal or person who had torn the book to shreds, but I blamed myself for leaving it within his reach and also admired his taste in poetry!)
But what about Understand? What does it mean; what can it mean?
And in case you’re wondering about the photograph of the leaf which I took in Mount Congreve yesterday, it made me think of the much loved hands of my late Mother, who adored trees, as she grew more and more fragile, yet ever more insightful and understanding.
One of the most precious feelings I know is the warmth of a ‘wrinkled old hand’ in mine. The reassuring squeeze that makes everything okay; that is the embodiment of empathy and true love.
When I was about five, I remember cuddling up to my mother in bed and holding her hand.
I love your wrinkles, I said, meaning it with all my heart.
Mother was only in her early forties then. She had lovely soft, warm skin and hardly a wrinkle then, or indeed ever in her long life.
I see now why she was rather taken aback by my remark. I think it made her feel very old but it’s her hands that I think of today, especially after reading this gem of a poem:
The Little Boy and the Old Man
Said the little boy, “Sometimes I drop my spoon.”
Said the old man, “I do that too.”
The little boy whispered, “I wet my pants.”
“I do that too,” laughed the little old man.
Said the little boy, “I often cry.”
The old man nodded, “So do I.”
“But worst of all,” said the boy, “it seems
Grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.”
And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.
“I know what you mean,” said the little old man.