May today there be peace within.
May you trust your highest power
that you are exactly
where you are meant to be….
May you not forget the infinite possibilities
that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received,
and pass on the love
that has been given to you….
May you be content knowing
you are a child of God….
Let this presence settle into our bones,
and allow your soul the freedom
to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of you….
Saint Therese of Lisieux
“One of the most beautiful gifts in the world is the gift of encouragement. When someone encourages you, that person helps you over a threshold you might otherwise never have crossed on your own.” John O’Donohue
I am grateful for knowing some great friends, who give me perspective and the simple joy of belonging. I am especially grateful for my Anam Cara’s. John O’Donohue is an Irish author who wrote a book of the same name, and defined the Anam Cara as, “a person to whom you could reveal the hidden intimacies of your life. This friendship was an act of recognition and belonging. When you had an Anam Cara, your friendship cut across all convention and category. You were joined in an ancient and eternal way with the friend of your soul.”
This too has been my experience – and one of them has just given me one if the most special gifts I’ve ever had. Though I chose her gift with thought and care, as my kids said, “Diane 1, Mum Nil.”
It started with a key ring called “The World According To Caroline” – in itself significant. I’m called Caroline but long ago, my mum shortened it to Carol, and won’t call me anything else. Nor will anyone who knew me prior to 1999, the year I decided to stand up for my life. I love my name, Caroline; it’s who I am now – and Diane knows about this struggle to be me.
The gifts were all wrapped in love and labelled in the order I had to open them. Only after I opened them and then read the details in the keyring did I realise that and she had read the “Links To Your Name,” and had given me one of each. That’s when I sat humbled and started to cry at such an amazing gift of love.
She gave me:
Fragrance: Mint – and I got a healthy dark chocolate mint bar
Plant: Fern – I got a scroll with a fern on it, that said that, “like the fern, we grow and flourish if we unfurl toward light or truth. The more we unfurl, the more the tendrils of our true nature begin to show as we loosen, surrender and soften, releasing and opening as we let go of old stories…”
Flower: Dahlia – I got a paper cup cake holder with dahlia’s on it as a reminder to keep baking (which I last did in 1998)
Tree: Elm. Now Diane could not know that I once lived in a house called ElmValej, but what she did know is that I’ve been learning to nurture myself and avoid overwhelm. She gave me the Bach Flower remedy Elm, which helps me do just that ..
Animal: Reindeer, so I got a Christmas ornament and a decoration for my tree. Yet a deer is also significant as we both attended a storytelling event where we found our power animal – and found exactly the same one. A deer…
Metal: Titanium – she emailed me David Guetta’s Titanium (one of my favourite tracks of 2012)
Hue: Turquoise – I got a beautiful Turquoise crystal
Day of the Month: 22, which happens to be my husband’s birthday, but it was the day she arranged to have my present delivered..
Number 41: it was all organised by Diane, who is 41
And last, but very much by no mean last, Gemstone: Sapphire – and inside a trinket box with angels wings and love on it was a turquoise pendant which had been precious to her mum but which she wanted to pass to me..
Gifts wrapped in love indeed. Wow!
I have had the wonderful privilege of being a mother – at times a great mother, at times a less than totally positive role model, and at other times, a downright failure as a mum when I focussed too much on my own problems and not enough on their needs.
It’s possibly the most difficult job in the world – and it comes with no handbook to guide you as each child would need their own personalised book anyway.
You learn on the job, and you learn from your mistakes. Yet sometimes because of me, and sometimes despite me, my four children have grown to be adults I am immensely proud of, and I spent this Mother’s Day with three of them at various stages of the day, and with my sister-of-choice and her daughter and fiance. I was given beautiful cards, flowers, and butterflies, candles and little books. Little gifts that mean the world to me because they come from the heart.
It’s the gifts that come with love attached that are the memorable ones. Yesterday, my youngest daughter treated me to lunch in a local hotel that’s been wonderfully refurbished; the Dumfries Arms in Cumnock is now well worth a visit! Jenni’s a student, with little spare money, so I really appreciated the fact she wished to spend some of it on me; I appreciated our time together as much.
The last time she did this, she was almost 12; and it remains one of my favourite memories. Unknown to me, she had gone without school dinners and saved her pocket money for weeks, (and did some classroom trading by buying sweets up the street and them selling them on for a profit), to get enough money to take me for lunch. Proud as punch, she took me to the lovely Failford Inn and told me I could have whatever I wanted (while secretly hoping I’d not go for the most expensive item), but then she didn’t know that mums know exactly what to do at times like these.
We spent time talking about that Mother’s Day Lunch – and how relieved she had been when I offered to buy the drinks and when I turned her offer of dessert down as I was “too full.” I doubt if there was a prouder, happier daughter that particular day – or a prouder, happier mum for that matter, given what she’d done to get me there.
My eldest daughter gave me one of my other memorable gifts. It came all the way from Korea where she was teaching English. I still have the little red box that had once held sweets, with its little handmade packets in it, each with a handwritten note.
“Coffee represents the energizing effect you have on me. You encourage me to follow my dreams. You also remind me that no-one ever remembers “weak coffee.”
A bag with a little silver leaf necklace:
” The leaf represents memories. Firstly, leaves remind me of how much you love autumn – particularly walking through the fallen leaves. Secondly they remind me of the docken leaf and its healing powers. I know how you’ve tried to protect me; but sometimes the nettle loves to sting me so I can learn my lesson. Finally, it represents me. I was attached to yu, but will always have part of you with me, no matter where life takes me. ” Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.” ” Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in spring.” I will always remember my mum.”
” The candle represents the light you seek me to seek. You are like a candle. You set others alight. You ignite passion. You raise the heat. Did you know that each candle raises the temperature of a room by one degree? “A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.” “It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” You would always choose the candle. You are a positive influence.”
A four leaf clover:
“The four leaf clover represents luck. Sometimes we have to find our own luck. “Luck ain’t even lucky. Got to make your own breaks.”
A small lens cleaner:
“If you ever find happiness by hunting for it, you will find it, as the old woman did her lost spectacles, – safe on the end of her nose.” This glasses cleaner represents my gratitude for you teaching me to be grateful for what I have. Also for teaching me to see things clearly – from all viewpoints.”
A tiny paper clip:
“This clip represents the stability you help me retain. You help me hold everything together when times are tough.”
A black plastic ring:
“This ring represents our unity as mother and daughter. Our bond is never-ending. The colour black absorbs light. You always want me to look for the light – like a mole.” (referring to my poem The Mole in the Hole Who Lost Sight in the Light)
It cost pennies to make, but what price the love behind it? It remains one of my most cherished gifts. I think you can see why I know I am blessed.
On Saturday, I popped out to do some very necessary food shopping – and was nearly run over several times by trolleys pushed by people intent on buying flowers and chocolates for Mother’s Day, and oblivious to everything else. Harassed and harried, they didn’t see other shoppers, were rude to the assistants, and so many failed to have consideration for others around them. It was as good a day for trolley rage as I’ve seen. Standing back, I wondered if their mums would have been proud of the way they were shopping, and figured I’d much rather have nothing than have what was bought for me bought out of duty or after making others unhappy or angry.
Mother’s Day; it’s the one day in the year that a card really means more than a gift anyway. The day we celebrate mums or those who have nurtured us. I’d spent the previous weekend with my own mum, who is also known as Mrs Doyle for her persistent hospitality and offers of tea. I was able to ask her many questions about her childhood, a childhood spent in poverty and fear of a violent alcoholic father. It explained so much; her inability to sit down and relax (because her father never allowed anyone to relax, or read, they must always be working). It explained her anxiety and worry, and feelings of inferiority that at time I’ve been frustrated with; I now have compassion for that child who didn’t really have a childhood. I watched her at dinner and saw how red her hands were, from constant cleaning and from caring for others in a way that no-one really ever cared for her. And I can tell you now that I am so grateful that she is my wonderful imperfect, ever loving and supportive mum, and that I still have her with me, where many of my friends found Sunday such a difficult day because their mothers are no longer here.
Mother’s Day is, as one of my friends wrote, her birthed-me day; how can I not be grateful? What gifts can we give that ever repay a mother’s unconditional love? None that I can think of that merit trolley rage, only pride, joy and happiness.