For anyone who reads this particular blog it is only one of a few entries I will make about this momentous day in my life. There will be others soon. Thanks
It is at times like this that having no family is brought into acute focus. And it is at times like this that family can be its worst. It’s graduation day.
Mum’s faffing about with a new hat and you can’t get out of the house ‘til she’s done. Dad, though pleased you’re graduating, is having trouble coming to terms with the fact he didn’t. Holding back pride has made him irritable. This makes you feel lacking somehow so you overcompensate around him which adds to his irritation. Or he’s not there at all. He passed away when you were eleven years old. You daren’t mention him for fear your mother will cry. The only reason she’s adjusting her hat in that mirror is because she’s thinking of him but you don’t know that.
And your daughter senses the agitated air of it all. But you don’t know that cause you’re agitated. Who’s there for you, you think to yourself. There’s been arguments all morning. Now you’re ready, the three of you and just before you leave the house your mum spits on her handkerchief and focus her eyes on your face. And all you can think is
Mum do not wipe that on my face. I am a thirty two year old woman both married and divorced and I went to university and I am not going to my graduation ceremony with your spit rubbed into my forehead
pronounced FOH –R ED in these parts. And your mum wells up not about the spit or the handkerchief. And you scream to yourself. It’s my day mum. All yourmum has ever wanted to say is This is your day love (but it’s mine too.) Andyour daughter tugs your skirt and you snap and then immediately realise she didn’t deserve to be snapped at. Your mother raises her head and you just know, you just know she’s judging you. Taxi’s here she says pulling back the curtains as your daughter pulls your skirt again. You are in the taxi all three of you a woman of fity four a woman of thirty two and a daughter of eleven in total silence.
As you arrive at the university your fitted with your graduation gown and your mother gets the camera and bothers a stranger to take a picture and you say mum leave them alone they don’t want to... and before you know it all three of you are stood in front of a stranger raising your necks like geese. As the flashsplashes light over you that picture of you in your graduation gown and mortarboard and three generations of women are transported into the front rooms of your future. That picture.
When you graduate walking upwards into St Pauls the chapel of HuddersfieldUniversity you receive your award from the Chancellor Patrick Stewart, yourmother in the audience is in tears and she’s dabbing her eyes with that same handkerchief which she wouldn’t have brought had it not been for the spit. You’d wiped off the mark before leaving the house without thanking your mother for noticing it. Your mother looks at the embroidery. His initials.
By the time you all gather in the courtyard after the ceremony she’s got the camera out again. Maybe then you realise its importance. Anyway your less stressed now and so your happy to stand outside and throw your hat in the air. Flash. Click. Look at that. For a moment as the day ends and you prepare to take the cab home you think of your mum and and what she’s done and who she is and you might if the foresight lets you, you might say to her this is for you too mum but just as you were going to say something you see her spit on her handkerchief and wipe a bit of muck from your daughters face. You’ll seeyour daughter frown and wink at her and she’ll giggle.
In the cab home silence again. There’s things you don’t know about your mother you think as she fusses over your daughter. And you make a mental note to sit down and talk about her life one day. You’ll forget that you thought this once youget on with yours. And that’s okay. She might tell you of the children she gave birth to that you never knew about and the grief that she’s handled for her life. But she coiuldn’t do that. Not now. Now is another reason to put it off till a better time. It’s your day after all.
This fantasy of the relevance of family in its dysfunction intercepts the perception that in not having a family one perceives it to be the idiom of harmony.Harmony is not the nature of family. As animals we are designed to procreate whether the experience of life is harmonious or not. It is this primal event, of family, from which I have a deficiency in childhood which I communicate to you in the best way I can so you can see what I mean.
But besides this, besides experiences however volatile and destructive there is light. Besides being denied what we see as our human right there is something greater some power that when needed rises into action. We are all born with it, whether we have family or not, whether we have memory or not, whether we are traumatised or not. For me it is the heart of creativity. I write to stay alive as it is the nature of living to engage with creativity and without having family I have come to know this and I am lucky. And in this I am quite possibly graduating.