Monday, 3 May 2010

Pure Pink Mother's day

Driving home last night from Torvizcon, across the pitted,rutted and dusty dirt track road which is carved like a wobbly, ocher coloured line into the midriff of the mountain , I witnessed one of the most fabulous sunsets I have ever seen in my life. Streaks of deep, deep pink, and splodges of dusky dark blue-purple were splashed across the lavender sky. The scene was breath taking. I challenge any painter to reproduce that pink. It was like seeing this colour for the very first time ever, and it was the end of Mother's day here in Spain.

In the morning, Angustia's family had invited me to join them for lunch in the family home below my house. It's uninhabited now that Angustia's has died. Arriving in a possy of cars from Granada and Almeria, they told me:
'It's mothers day, come and eat with us!' It wasn't a question!

I knew they had come to remember and celebrate her. Nobody mentioned Angustia's name during the feast of barbecued meat, salad, and huge wedges of delicious water melon. I struggled with hot tears as I looked around the familiar kitchen noting her well used brown pots and pans with their matching lids hanging on the wall, just as before. The calender was a year out of date. Her blue and white pottery gleamed as always. The little sink in the corner seemed smaller than ever. The cement floor collected the debris from the meal. Everybody had brought something to share. Twelve of us sat around the table, they treated me as one of them. We were twelve people who had adored Angustia. Everybody, except me, talked a lot.
The poignancy of all the times I'd spent with my dear seventy eight year old neighbour in her kitchen, with her fog horn voice recounting fascinating stories of the old days in the village, silenced me.

After the meal, when everybody else had gone home and her sons were busy tidying up, her sister Isabel and I sat together. She told me once again, how Angustia had been run over in the street, by a car, going too fast. So quick, she said. It's almost a year now.
We cried together. She kept on talking, wiping her eyes with her blue apron. I noticed she'd lost a front tooth since I last saw her. Her hair is growing grey. We are they same age. I didn't reach for her hand nor she for mine. Ambushed momentarily by grief, we each knew how much the other had mattered to Augustia, and vice verca, of course.
It was a private, shared, moment, almost too painful bear.
Que vamos a hacer? She said at last. This is what they say here when everything else has been said. It translates something like, 'what else can we do'. It's the tone of voice they use to say this that implies an acceptance that is extremely deep. Life goes on.
Angustia's devoted sons and daughter will keep taking flowers to the cemetery on the Day of the Dead, and they will keep celebrating the wonderful mother she was, as long as they live. Her dear husband Miguel is very frail. They say he eats like a little bird now.

John O'Donohue the late much loved Irish mystic and writer wrote this blessing for the arrival of a child into the world, I'm quoting just a small part of it.
To end mother's day with this birth blessing seems apt, and in many ways it sums up Angustia for me. She was never fearful, never bitter, always kind.

May my eyes never lose sight
Of why I came here,
That I never be claimed
By the falsity of fear
Or eat the bread of bitterness.
In everything I do, think,
Feel, and say,
May I allow the light I am leaving
To shine though me and carry me home.