family

That Day, That Day, Again, Again the 13th April - 5 years ago by daintydora

This day 5 years ago - 13th April 2010 - my mum had a brain hemorrhage and spent a month in hospital. Amazingly, she lived. Every day is a gift and more than anything; that day, that day, brought it home to me how precious life is as moments slip between fingers into the cracks of memory.

On the first year anniversary of that day, 13th April, we spent the day out in the West End of Glasgow. Here's an extract of what I wrote then in a blog post called 'West End Day':

Had a fun day out in the West End yesterday with the madre. It was a year to the day since... and we wanted to make it special.
Was it a coincidence that browsing through a box of old postcards in a vintage shop I found a bundle of Marine Art Poster postcards and I knew before I saw it there was going to be one depicting the very ship that began my mother's journey from the place of her birth to the rest of her life?
The Cunard line ship that brought home my Mother and my Nana from South Africa in 1946 – the Samaria. The one I researched for hours online and described in my prose for 'the family saga' with a searing accuracy? I was stunned and elated to secure that postcard.
This discovery sparked a recounting of remembered events and experiences, all entirely pertinent to the plot at hand. Had I known that the Samaria had in fact been chopped up for match wood at the end of its useful life? No.
How many matches – 500,000? 500,000,000? A billion? How many stories did that ship have the pleasure (or the pain) of igniting in its lifetime? How many lives did it unwittingly touch?
And then: a gift for me.
An original copy of Tamara De Lempicka's 'Girl with Gloves’.
When I was studying Higher Art I was obsessed with chiaroscuro and the artists that painted or drew in that technique (still am.)
My mum said that day it was a gift of "a beautiful woman, from a beautiful woman, to a beautiful woman."

Girl with Gloves - Tamara de Lempicka

Art Deco elegance, that careful poise, the coy but somehow sad tipping of the wide-brimmed hat. The enduring sage of her dress that sometimes appears emerald, other times dampened chartreuse. She is herself a Pandora of possible - and impossible - interpretations and from now on she will be my muse. My lady luck with the joyous curls and sharp gloves concealing vixen-talons.

What a wonderful, wild-weathered whisper of a day. How I never thought we would have another 5 years together of chatter and laughing and bickering and dancing. But we did and we have. Here's to the next 5, 10, 15, 20, 25...

It was significant. Today is significant. Every day is significant.

PS. And today there was cake! A Victoria sponge with fresh cream and jam!

 

The Emerald Earring by daintydora

Emerald earring I take the hexagonal box down from the shelf and run my finger over the decorative stained glass panel. The colour has begun to peel; etched away by time and touch. Inside the wooden confines a vibrant rainbow of life shimmers out from red velveteen pockets and compartments speckled with dust.

I spy tiger's eye and gold and coral and paste and ivory and lapis lazuli and agates from the Western Cape. There are rings and earrings and a couple of brooches, and a special hair clip that I wore as a child; all safely stowed away in Nana's jewellery box.

Nana’s jewellery box brimming with the celebratory threads of her life, her treasure. The cherished place where secrets fell, tangled in silver and gold. A quiet place. A calm place. Save for all those memories and colours vying for the limelight.

Grazing the individual pieces with my finger; the gold knot earrings, the amethyst ring, I am transported back to the stories Nana told me as a young girl. From the top of Table Mountain and its airless misty scrub of heat and weeds, to the beach at Kalk Bay dancing with shells and late-afternoon swimmers; my Nana the lifeguard who swam with the sharks.

And then my eyes fall to the emerald earring.

Just one. It’s contours alive with it’s vibrant energy caught between leaves of gold. How sad to keep just one of a pair, the other mislaid, lost, stolen, gone. Where does it rest now? Is it equally preserved in a box of wooden calm; revered and clasped with grace and love?

Nana didn't wear her jewels unless occasion demanded and I wonder just how many occasions she might have had. Back in the days when she was young and stayed out dancing to the Afrikaans music she called 'tikkie driver’ and loved so much. When she wasn't restricted by a cornucopia of medicines for blood pressure and angina and heart problems.

She loved green. I remember a green dress she had with huge white flowers on, and a pea-green raincoat she often wore. The emerald earrings would have set her face alight, contrasting with her bright white hair. I'm not sure now what her natural colour would have been.

She told me once that her hair turned white overnight when she heard the news that her mother had died days after she set sail for Southampton from Cape Town. She hadn't known that anything was wrong. It would take too long to go back. She never got to say goodbye.

Emerald is fire, strength. The jewel of her jewels.

They say that stones take on the vibrations of their owners, be it pebbles on the beach or tumbled stones to semi-precious and precious stones. I wonder about the missing earring and if it was tossed aside or perhaps repurposed as a brooch.

The fire lives on, I'm sure, that fearless passion and light, the stone simply a conduit, a mirror for it’s surroundings.

My mind filled once again with thoughts of Table Mountain, and the ashes that were scattered from its airless heights, I restore the precious cargo of jewels, more precious and rich in memory than money could ever afford, to their neat red valleys and place Nana’s jewellery box back on its shelf.

This short story was inspired by the image of the emerald earring, taken by my 'blog-buddy' Karen who writes at Leaf & Petal. Read Karen's corresponding post to see how the image inspired her.