Live Your Life like You’re Wearing a Colander on Your Head.
Only two people in my life have ended up on their knees.
These moments of surrender happened before I was a fragment of being.
I was not even a lusty wink in my father’s eye.
My mother not yet pregnant and desperate to fill her world with a little girl.
That would pick apart shells and bodies and eat snails out of the garden.
A little girl who would be banned from Brownies for defending her friend, by calling Big Brown Owl a ‘big fat cow’.
That little girl who would later become me.
My Mother filled with nature’s disappointment for the 11th month, prayed in bent repent to a God she would later argue with. There in the unbelievably hot summer of 1976, still a record holder.
My Mother cradles wishes that she willed into a murmaration of hopes that she promised could become reality at any cost.
Uttering that she would give anything to be able to hold a life within her.
Declaring that fortune could take from her whatever it pleased, if replaced with this gift.
Within that humid June, my Mother fought back tears and began to bloom with the speck of potential that starts a new soul.
In disbelief and in the even hotter July she was ready to say those words that changed Paul into my Dad.
In split screen history, murky with years of fingerprints, slides of my grandma in black and white, fade her image in an out of my mind.
She was the force that brought the second person in my life to their knees.
Tidal waves of anger pulse throughout the room and tears of frustration cling to her cheeks. She riles with her 4ft 2 inches might at my 6ft 2inch tall granddad.
She, who had left the hospital half an hour with his arms around her.
Took those same arms and tied herself to them in screams, the despair of what was inside her had finally hit. My grandfather crippled with the weight of grief; buckled to the floor of the family room still anchored to my grandmother’s hands.
Till the only words that ever hurt like heaven slipped from him, ‘How will I live without you’?
Fate nailed all the horseshoes upside down, led an army of black cats across the path and every Friday became the 13th in just seven words, ‘You have only six months to live’.
As I grew in my Mother’s womb, my grandmother’s cancer spread. One immune system attacked in trench warfare and the other ready for the upcoming battle of chicken pox and measles.
The only flag that their bodies both raised was blasted with the anthem of that to survive till I came into the world.
Two mother’s harbouring the infinite ends of life, both glowing in the dark, silent in their inevitabilities.
I arrived three weeks late, grappled by my father’s dirty hands that stained the new, white sheets I was wrapped in.
The dark earth of the fens still encrusted on his fingers, greeted me then bled into my veins, the nurse told him off for being a mucky bugger.
Names were shot at my sleeping face from all the family.
Strong in her weak state, my grandma dredged from jazz singers, opera stars and Irish valleys my name.
A safety net for every fall I ever commit. Her quite belief in my beauty sits inside every insult I receive and all the photos I ever take.
She held me for six weeks, fighting the doctors, nurses and spectres away.
Singing her stories into my developing brain, filling me with the celebration of life.
When she passed, she walked into a paradise of her own design; ties of love broke under her leaving.
I still hope that her nirvana was crammed with ABBA songs, dovecotes and my granddad handsome in his Navy uniform.
After that on every Sunday from age 9 to 15 I would laugh at my mum’s tales about my name giver. How my Nan was the kind of woman that put a colander on her head, tied tight with a neat bow. Keeping it up and unsinkable when she ran could not have it slipping off when the summer rain began to thunder.
Even though the holes let in the wet and she wore obscene shorts that were hardly considered clothing.
She loved to pass the village vicar and watch his face fill with red surprise.
She threw appearances to the wind, gave no meaning to what was expected.
She loved each sensation of life from singing out of tune passionately, the smell of apples and the pain of miscarriage.
Gifting this drumbeat of excitement for existence to my mother and I.
this means you will often see us living life like we are wearing a colander on our heads.
By Keely Mills Feb 14th 2014