A moment in time.

We have had had some unseasonably hot, albeit pleasant weather in Scotland the last couple of weeks. This has resulted in a flurry of activity in our allotment and because it stays light until very late this far North, we have spent some lovely evenings rooting contentedly around our little plot.

A couple of days ago, on one of these fine evenings, we bumped into one of the other allotment plot owners, let’s call him Paul for the sake of anonymity. Seated at one of the battered picnic tables near the shed, he was enjoying a cup of tea from a flask that had seen better days. He had brought his mum, Moira, with him — a tiny, old lady who never quite made eye contact during the conversation. Introductions revealed that she was already well into her nineties, and it didn’t take me long to realise that she had Alzheimer’s disease.

As they strolled around the garden, Paul would patiently point out the different vegetables growing in the plots, and his beautiful mum, wrapped in a heavy winter coat despite the heat, would make appreciative noises, but would then turn to look him in the eye and exclaim that she ‘wished Paul could see this’, to which he would gently reply, “Mum, I am Paul”.

We watched them walk, Paul’s hand on her elbow as he pointed out the different plants and vegetables growing, patiently drawing her back to him each time that she did not recognise him as her son.

It was beautiful, and it was tragic.

A reminder of the cruelty of a disease that can strip a mother of the ability to recognise the child that she birthed and raised, and yet, a poignant reminder of the determined power of a love that can never be destroyed by the monster that is Alzheimer’s.

With us that afternoon, was our 9-year old son, Daniel, who happens to have Autism. Daniel struggles with social interaction, especially with strangers, and so, you can imagine how my heart contracted with a surge of emotion that I still cannot adequately put into words, when he gently took Moira’s frail hand in his and without either of them making eye contact with each other, softly whispered, “Look at her hands, Mom, they are so soft. Is she very old?”

And Moira, quietly stood there, not saying a word, except for the almost bird-like noises that would escape her lips every so often, whilst my son’s fingers explored the transparent skin on the back of her hand.

The moment didn’t last long, but it had a magical quality about it. A sense of something other-worldly taking place between these two strangers — boy and woman — who both inhabit a world that is, at times, inaccessible to the ones who love them.

We spoke a little more until it was time to leave, Moira looking at her son, nodding every so often at what he was saying, and Daniel, tugging at my hand, asking to go home.

And as we said goodbye, I had a sense of something deeply special having happened. I cannot give a name to it, but then again, I don’t think I need to.

— A moment in time.

(Warrior) Mum.

i mourn

the things

that

(this)

life

will not give

to you.

but,

i do not

mourn

you.

— (warrior) mum.

There are days that I mourn what my beautiful boy will never have in this life.

But, I do not mourn him.

He is joy and sunshine and innocence, and my heart is attached to his by an invisible umbilical cord.

He is the answer to desperate prayers and hope fulfilled — treasure in the shape of a boy.

On raising a boy.

I rub

gentleness

into your skin

every day,

so that the one

who loves you

one day,

does not have

to peel back

the layers,

to find your heart.

—On raising a boy.

[On mothering] Autism.

I walk before you,

always searching for

the danger

that you will never see;

or,

anticipate.

I walk next to you,

always with your hand in mine,

even now as time,

mercilessly,

changes you into a man.

My mother’s hands

will hold you,

for as long as I can.

This,

I promise.

I walk behind you,

to let you go;

just a little.

Just

a

little.

My tongue is never still;

always interpreting this bright, noisy,

overwhelming world;

for you.

Helping you make sense of

this beautiful,

never-ending

assault

on your senses.

My mouth is never quiet;

always interpreting your bright,

quirky flappiness

for the rest of the world.

Hoping,

that through my

fluency

they might see,

you,

and walk in kindness.

They don’t always understand;

the beauty

of you.

My eyes are always searching;

searching,

always.

For

just

a glimmer of kindness;

somewhere.

My hands are strong;

toughened.

From holding on;

fiercely clinging

to hope.

Where sometimes,

it feels like

there is none.

My heart holds more love

than I ever thought

possible.

This muscle grown strong

from loving you;

without condition.

Grown strong,

from standing up

to threats.

And there have been many.

And even on days where

my heart

is cracked

from the weight

of dreams,

broken,

I still count it all as

beautiful.

This gift

of

you.

—[On mothering] Autism.

The Therapist.

At home, Gabriel only ate the red M&M’s.

The other colours all terrified him.

His exasperated mum wrote it off as ‘just another of his autistic quirks.’

He couldn’t tell her that the angry lady with the piercing eyes, always ate the red ones during his ABA sessions; ‘rewarding’ him with the other colours when his fear finally forced him to follow her barked commands.

The other colours were the currency of her grudging satisfaction, and only when she slid them across the table at him, one by one, did he not have to look into her eyes.

To Gabriel, red, was the colour of freedom.

On Motherhood.

For you,

I lay down my darkness.

When it calls,

I turn my back;

refuse the siren call of my escape.

Only,

for you.

Because,

in your eyes,

I see the only light that shines kindly on my

empty places.

You,

are my

redemption.

 

 

Look up, dear friend.

Look up, dear friend, look up.

Though your heart is

crushed

with the weight of broken dreams,

the earth is reminding you

that even the

barest branches bloom again,

in season.