Monday, 25 January 2010

Writing at night

Once again I can’t sleep so I get up and write. Long before I became ill, if I had an important letter to write, rather than worry about it or keep going over the same problem, I would get up, sort out the line of argument, write it, then go back to sleep.

I have been concerned about my mother. As a former nurse she has some idea of what I am facing although she doesn’t really know much about bone marrow transplants which, for her, are relatively new. As she has a poor memory now, she prefaces many questions with, “I know you’ve probably told me this before but….” and I try to reassure her about my treatment. One aspect she never forgets is her gratitude to the donor. I just hope that the delays and poor communication at Southampton haven’t scuppered my chances since there is only one good match worldwide.

However, she does have very real anxiety about not being able to see me for so long once treatment has started. Naturally, I am doing my best about the practical aspects of not seeing her in organising her finances but we have always been close. I have noticed that most of my female cousins also get on very well with their mothers. It’s not a dependency (although my mother at 96 is more dependent upon me now) and she has never tried to interfere in my life, it is more that we enjoy each other’s company and find it stimulating.

As a child my mother took me for walks in the countryside, teaching me the names of plants, birds and trees. She interested me in literature and because of her own interest in social history and strong sense of fairness in terms of class and sex, I learnt much which has been invaluable. Most Scots have a respect for education and she was no exception.

She told me not only about her family and but also about my father’s. Later I assumed this was because it is very often women who are the repository of the family genealogy on both sides. Now I wonder whether she was trying to reinforce the bond between my father’s family and me. Certainly my father didn’t really talk much about his family or their history. He tended to talk to me about art, poetry, ethics and religion. He would take time to go through my singing parts and broadened my interest in music but now I think about it, he avoided talking about his parents. Perhaps there was a part of him which subconsciously did not want to maintain a fiction of a genetic link. Perhaps an intellectual link was something which could be trusted.

He had a moral courage and steadfastness of ethics which must have made the deception very difficult. I have sometimes felt he would be disappointed that although I am anti-war, my stance is not as a conscientious objector but more that I have a practical dislike of being used for other people’s political and material ends. I don’t have the Puritan ethics of simplicity and self-denial. I rejoice in the complexity of art, literature and music and I have a more practical less religious attitude to morality. In some ways knowing there was no genetic link has given me the permission to be different.

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