Things My Daughter Taught Me
My daughter taught me how to make sour-dough bread.
Or rather, ‘mind’ it for her when she went away. I was told to
nurture it, as one would a child. Feed the dough, daily.
To enhance its rising – talk to it, from time to time.
Crazy as it sounds, all these things I did! Except …
when she finally came to bake it – the loaf took a nose dive.
Never was I asked to ‘bread-sit’ again!
She taught me, one can’t have too many vases, too many flowers;
the rudiments of how to literally ‘shop until I dropped’ and yet still
have time to lunch – the incurable shopaholic she was.
Showed me the ropes on how to give ‘the kiss of life’, with the aid
of her blow-up mannequin, ‘Resusci-Anne’. I laughed till I cried –
that Friday afternoon, long-since past.
How best to construct a compost heap; how to grow anything
and everything from seed. Made me appreciate the beauty
of common and garden weeds.
“After all,” she posed the question. “Isn’t a weed just a plant –
decides to grow in a place of its, not of our, choosing?” A glint
in those misty, grey-green eyes.
Taught me to savour, the everyday things of life; like walking
the dogs, watching the bats at dusk in her back garden.
Rescuing them from Eddy, her incorrigible cat!
That dying, like it or lump it, is an integral part of living; death’s
ominous shadow, a constant companion for twenty years. The rebel
that she was, it only spurred her on; her thirst for life, unquenchable.
And in her dying, she taught me to realise, I wouldn’t be remembered
for how clean my hall floor was. A thing she’d learned too late.
Or so she said. A message she spread, loud and clear.
She also taught me how to climb inside her mind. Her thoughts, mine;
gone – days of band-aids and kisses to make it better. The best
I could do was follow where she led …
And she led me well. On the island she found herself marooned upon,I practiced what she preached. Touch was her life-raft. Her art, explained explicitly, by her drifting off to sleep as I held her hand.
Were she a writer, she would have written a book; a diva – sung it straight from the heart. The star of her own reality TV show, given half a chance. Instead, she just did what she did best. Remained, and truly was, a teacher to the end.