An inspirational speech from Angie Thomas:
An inspirational speech from Angie Thomas:
Life flew by and I’m around again to the month that I find the hardest to deal with. You see my Mother died at the beginning of January and my Father at the end of January. Yes there was a few years between them, Mum died in 1998, Dad followed her five years later, but for me January is the worst kind of month.
It’s the month I dread for the rest of the eleven, because even though the years have flown by since I lost them, the grief is still there. It hides away, waiting for something or someone to remind you, to then flare up and you’ll find yourself (or I do) standing there in public with tears rolling down my cheeks. I find that hard black lump in my throat as I stand or sit or even lay there and really feel the loss that they have left behind.
I cuddle my partner, our child, our animals to try and salve this wound, and yet that isn’t enough, and will never really fill it up. I’ve learnt to move on, to accept this grief as a small part of who I am, and adapt to the new paradigm that exists. And for folk who have never lost anyone in this permanent sort of way, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. But for those of us who have, and will live a different life afterwards we do understand.
Catching up with friends, it is the ones who have lost something or someone (a relationship or a person) that understand it more. Who get where I’m coming from. Who accept the older woman with tears on her cheeks in public, mourning her loss in public.
So I’m sitting here typing into the computer, and reflecting on a conversation my partner had with his class this week. As he looked around the classroom where all the heads of the students were bent over their computers interfacing with their digital worlds, he asked how many of them thought they were Cyborgs. After some conversation they came around to his interpretation of what a Cyborg is now.
I don’t use social media, so I’m not as connected as most folk. I don’t own a smart phone either. So my own interactions with digital worlds are when I’m sitting down with my child when he needs help establishing a colony in Age of Empires. We grow and build the colony until he’s ready to go off and wage war.
So I don’t consider myself a big C Cyborg – I walk down the street and greet people personally. I live in a small rural town where the majority of folk on the street don’t have their heads down, or ear phones on as they live their digital lives. I live here, now, in the present. Not waiting for the promised lands of the digital environment.
I use the internet but not as a reference tool, as an entertainment tool. (I’m hanging out for the next Star Wars movie but that’s another story). I prefer my interactions to be face to face, but have been known to text and email folk who just need to know that I care and love them. (Usually when they’re going through tough times and don’t want to talk….).
I wonder at the future my child will inhabit if the vast majority of the world is caught in the digital world. How often they will interact one to one, not through the safety of the digital tools, but in person. Will it be better? Or worse. He’s growing up in a world where the internet is the norm, Facebook is everywhere (at least amongst the teens at my school), and Minecraft is what you do with your lunchtime.
Unlike the Cyborgs of the present, I’ll be shutting down the computer soon, and heading out to spend the afternoon gardening in my veggie patch, and watching my child play with the dog. I won’t be waiting for the next Facebook update or any of the other digital “musts” that this age we live in seems to insist we do. Instead it will be me, the earth, and the sky – as I prefer it.
My memories of my Mother – who has been gone now for 16 years, are of a hard working, tired woman, who spent her entire life devoted to her family. She was a shy women, with few friends outside of the family, by she was loyal, honest and kind.
We would fight, as I think may be normal for those Mother/Daughter relationships, and argue, and disagree – especially on issues that shook her conservative way of thinking. (Oh how many times have I pictured what she would say if she was still here and found out I married a Catholic!). Anyway, she also came from a time when women wore themselves out, caring for everyone before themselves. Her mother had done it, and her mother before her. They all died from heart attacks, their lives shortened by the poverty and lack of health care that was the England of yesteryear.
So here I am – mid forties, going, am I going down this track? No. For me, the future doesn’t hold a slow wearing down, I’m going to age as disgracefully as I can. So that’s going to be allowing my grey hairs to shine through, their evidence of some hard won battles against Ovarian masses and tumours. I’m never going to get plastic surgery because my face is the road map of my life, I have a lot of laugh lines, but you know, they’re evidence that I often don’t take life too seriously, and that I can still have a laugh with my son and partner. I want to be me, not some caricature of what an older women must look like. I want to enjoy what the future holds, without worrying or panicking about perfection.
Because that’s my lesson, life isn’t perfect, and even though I may want to control it, it’s out of my hands most of the time. I need to accept this perfection and live the life I am living now…..
I had presumed that the tales of becoming invisible as you age were just that, tales. But I’ve started to experience this strange and mysterious invisibility cloak myself…..and I’m only in my mid forties. So why is this so?
Is it because I’m female, and tend to blend into the background because of it? Or is it because in this age of mobile devices, those fiends who push ahead of me in queues are too busy glued to their screens then to social niceties?
I’m pretty loud – you know the type of person whose laugh can be heard throughout a building floor? So it’s not like I’m shy or retiring, but I’m finding myself exasperated by folks who use their mobile devices as shields, and so think they can get away with ignoring the fact you’re in a queue, and can push ahead. They’re also the very important folk who have to use their electronic devices through a transaction, so that they don’t have to acknowledge that there is a human being serving them.
I just wonder at what sort of relationships these people are building, when they hover their screens, and not actually attend to the folk their out and about with. I see it in Cafes, and Restaurants, two bright young folk enter, sit down, and before the waiting staff have even given them menus, out plops the electronic devices and they’re on their way to electronic nirvana. What’s the point of that? Surely if you’ve gone to the trouble of choosing to go out together, you should at least attempt to communicate with each other?
I’m one of the old school of parenting, my child does not have an electronic device to be glued to when we’re out, instead I carry around a backpack filled with textas, colouring paper, blank paper, everything you can imagine you’d need to draw some pretty amazing pictures. It works, he’s happy to draw or play a game of hangman, while we’re out, and we’re all interacting…especially hangman – the games get quite complicated and we usually end up laughing out loud…..too loudly too at times because we cause the mobile device users to sit up and glare at us….
Anyway, is it because I’ve entered the era for me to be grumpy about poor manners or just frustrated with the fact mobile lives are taking over basic human interactions? Who knows, but next time you’re waiting in a line and you think you see someone out of the corner of your eye, it might be one of us women of a certain age, cloaked in our invisibility, be polite and say hullo – we don’t bite!
Well I’ve been quiet for a long time – I’ve been quite sick with a bad case (is there ever a good case?) of bronchitis. Anyway that’s not what this post is about.
It’s about adapting to change.
Our family is going through another one of those upheavals, and we’re all going to go through a big change by the end of the year. How we handle any change displays how resilient we are. This change is a location change, but it will still require careful handling with regard to our young child. It’ll be hardest for him to farewell his school and friends.
For me, I’m a rolling stone, I gather no moss, but friends along the way, and for once, we’re actually moving because of my partner’s career, and not my own. So I have to take a deep breath and go with the flow, and realise that for once my career aspirations need to take a back seat, while my partner gets time in the sun to shine.
For my partner, it will mean leaving all that is important, his guitar students, concert band, the schools he has taught at and most importantly the student’s who’s lives he has touched.
So we’ll all be taking deep breaths, and as we pack and unpack, realising that that most important thing for us all, is that we’re doing it together, as the little family that could.
So the past week I’ve been down with a cold, which means I slow right down……and it gives me a lot of time at night to ponder on the big issues, while I can’t sleep. (Colds and Menopause – who knew this is like chronic sleep deprivation for the non HRT me?).
I thought a lot about how I coped in the aftermath of the losses I’ve experienced so far. Of how I shut down at first by the first waves of grief, of how getting out of bed, eating right or even exercising seemed things too far away to cope with. Of sheltering in the grief as it pounded away at me.
Then there comes a day when you can get out bed, with your box of tissues, and though it’s not easy, you get through a day. It’s no longer getting through that initial hour by hour loss, but it’s a day. Slowly you learn to live in this new world that has been created for you by the loss, and your feelings of loss. You adapt, because you have to. If you don’t you stay mired at the point of loss, and forever swim in that tragic grief.
It’s not easy – the first year, all those firsts you have to weather. And our western society expects us to put on a brave face and get through them, even when all you want to do is crawl backwards into bed. For me it’s justifiable, that’s how I grieve, I wail, I gnash, I sob, and I want to do that by myself, in the safety of my own room. (Door closed, tissue boxes lined up). It’s not fair that we’re expected to hide this part of who we are now. But it’s part of what society expects. (A cruel expectation especially in that first year).
So you weather that first year, and you’re faced with the second, the third years, and I will say for me, they did get a little easier to deal with. But that’s because I allowed myself to grieve at my own pace and in my own fashion. I was kind and gentle to myself, and not taking on the stiff upper lip attitude when my heart had been broken and it felt like the world as I knew it had ended. (Even when it was obvious the rest of the world kept going, oblivious to the gaping hole now in my life).
So I’m now at sixteen years passed the death of my beloved mother. I can now think back on what we had, on what we shared, and also on her flaws. She’s no longer a saint, but a human being, that I loved dearly, even though we did argue, bicker and disagree on major issues. I can for the most part (last week excepted) talk about her, and share her with my own family now.
But it took a long time for me to get through looking at friend’s sharing moments with their own mothers without tearing up and crying. For the loss of what might have been, could have been, had been.
During these sixteen years, I’ve lost my Dad, friends, relations, and each loss has changed again my world subtly at times, or in the case of my Dad, forced me again to re evaluate what I wanted, what I needed to do with the remaining years of my own life.
So for me, going on after a loss of any kind, is a simple fact of just getting through the grief, to feel it wash over you, acknowledge it, and then be kind and gentle until you’re ready to start living the new life, the one that was formed in the temple of your grief. It’s hard, it’s bitter, it’s full of anger and rage at times, but it’s a process that we have to go through, to get to the new phase.
Kate Olson ~ professional reader
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