Tuesday, 23 November 2010

More love

You don't need me to tell you that it would take more than one blogpost to cover the question of love. It has taken me this long, though, to recover from the shock of my temerity in discussing it at all a post or two ago. I did suspect at the time that I would be drawn in to discussing it some more. This time, there is the magnet of lost love. Is there any quality of love, through circumstance or choice, (see below if you are new to 75goingon40), which can be counted on as rock solid? It's possible that the love of one's children could be expected to overcome no- matter -what. Equally, the love for one's children.But, big but, don't we all know of situations which can , nevertheless, be categorised as 'never-darken-my-door-again'? A fictional one comes handily to mind. Do you remember "Fiddler on the Roof"? Briefly, this was the story of a very poor Jewish family of Father, Mother and five daughters living in Russia at the time of the pograms. The story was not the most subtly developed, but none the less potent for that. There was a progression, seen through the eyes of the obdurate, traditional Father, from his ultimate acceptance of his oldest daughter's right to chose her own husband to the marriage of a younger one to a Christian. Between, there was a middle daughter's alliance with a radical whom she followed to Siberia. Faced with each abomination, he first disowned and then came to reconciliation with them. Non-specific experience tells me that it is less likely the other way around. It seems to me that children are less inclined to accept, or even need, the rock solidarity of the parents' love, anyway, on the surface. One doesn't know the effect on their unconscious, that is, as P.G. Wodehouse, puts it, if they had one. I can think of instances, however, where a parent has 'sinned' by all rational measures of that crime, and is still loved and related to by his/her young. Indeed, the greater the 'sin' against love, the stronger the pull to have it back.

Maybe, there's the rub. Is it that we forgive and accommodate sins against love because of our need to find a rock solid one, at all costs to avoid its loss? I think, often, about the ramifications of divorce, for instance. Is it possible that the love, whatever its quality, that brought to people together in the first place, simply ceases to exist after divorce? Where does it go? In to the ether, down to the other place, is it transformed in to hate or indifference? Does it linger, in dreams, in cupboards, in the stuff we consign to Oxfam? Someone I know and love loathes her ex with a passion that can be almost scary. But, she dreams, with desolation, that she has lost her wedding ring. Is it the 'ghost of love lost' rather than 'hate found' that is hiding in her inner world? Death is different. It may be that there is not such an 'if only' possibility in the loss of love through death. Death clears our relationships of acrimony: divorce of tenderness. In the past, I have been careless with love, thinking it rock solid when it turned out not to be. There is a sort of see-saw in it: the 'no-matter-what- I-do I- can't-lose - it' against the 'no-matter-what-it-costs I'll -keep- it'. This morning it cost three different kinds of cat food to get it. I know, I know: no boundaries, no shame, no leave-her-to-it-and-if-she's-hungry etc etc. But rock solid it certainly is; for the moment, anyway. Bora da

Tuesday, 9 November 2010


What good practice it is to find a title that is succinct and pliable; one that will enable me to stick to the subject in hand but be not so specific that it will force me to run out of steam after two sentences. As I was saying, timing: I seem to have spent my entire life being too late to shop early for Christmas. Very little has changed this year except that I am even more aware that November is only just within the bounds of shopping early - my bounds, anyway. But I have made one purchase, that is, a real one, one that involved going in to a shop, asking a question, examining the goods, making a decision and paying, and, wait for it, going back out on to the street with a little package in my hand. I have also made two on-line purchases. (Stop it! This is no laughing matter. I bet your Grandmother isn't Christmas shopping on-line). I do not see this as a real purchase. I have touched nothing, exchanged words with no-one and certainly not wandered anywhere with a package in my hand. This is a cyber-purchase and if I ever see the goods no one will be more surprised than I: I, the pedant, that is. I am off on a little trip for five days and, who knows, perhaps there will be two tangible packages when I get back, or two cross notes from the postman saying he tried to deliver such and such without success and would I please present myself with all dispatch at an unfindable location at times which don't exist; oh, and bringing proof of identity. As if I didn't find it hard enough remembering who I am, myself, from time to time, without having to prove it to others. One other concession to shopping early: I have cut down on the number of presents I am going to buy.

However, the underlying inspiration for these reflections is rather more serious, I fear. I have left it too late to get it right. ' It' what? you may well ask. Life, actually, is the nearest I can get to it. At the weekend I went to a party, a mixed-age party. Present was a breast feeding Mother, her husband and, of course, the baby. At about eleven o'clock, having heard stirrings from the monitor, the young Mum slipped out of the crowded room. Moments later, the baby's Father followed her. I found the implications of this very moving. He was clearly going to take in the spectacle of his loved wife feeding their lovely small daughter. My mixed feelings, of pleasure and delight and, it must be said, sadness, were because it is now too late to have a Father for my children who would have felt able to do that. I must add, at once, that this would be largely generational. When my littles were little, going on for fifty years ago, Fathers would have been rarely seen and never heard of in the basic environment of child-birth and very early rearing. It is equally too late to breast feed them for as long as Mothers currently do. At the other end, it is too late for me to be better to my own Mother than I managed to be when it was right I should have been. Most of what was done was done from duty. Will she have known this as a child knows when its parent is only simulating love? There is even a lesson on this kind of verisimilitude from my above young friend: she speaks to her baby as if she were a fully cognisant human being. Sometimes, she even tells her the day has been difficult and she is feeling rather cross. What confidence in herself, her baby and their mutual understanding is shown by this way of communicating. How sad I am it is too late to be that kind of Mother. Now, I have the experience and the confidence and the ability to feel the tenderness for my own Mother I couldn't allow when she was alive, but, sadly, one can't re-do mothers who have passed on. We'll gloss over what kind of wife I was. Definitely too late to do that again and differently.

The order I put in for my life then, must, though I didnt know it, have been done on line. You type in what you want, furnish your credit card details and leave it to the Wizard of Cyberspace to deliver. You can't see the goods in advance, you can't question their viability and they often turn out to be very different, indeed, from what you expected when you put the order in. You can, of course, send them back, so there the analogy has to end. Happy shopping early for you-know-what.