« Change | Main | Montreal, and Why I Love It »

December 01, 2007


I love this.

And the photo.

its so lovely to hear you honour your mother and the gift she gave you in this way, beth.

You have reminded me of my childhood, at least one aspect of it. I clearly recall as a boy or perhaps eight or so running home from school to catch Robert Harbin's origami programme on the TV. Harbin, better known as a magician, was the first President of the British Origami Society. He was the also first Westerner to use the word origami for this art-form.

It reminds me how much I used my hands back then – I was always drawing or making things – and how little I use them now. I even got in a state yesterday trying to put the light on the Xmas tree and my wife had to rescue me. I really have become quite physically inept.

It's all I suppose to do with priorities. Since buying my first ZX81 about twenty-five years ago, for better or worse, computers have taken over my life; we currently have five in the house. I don't regret giving up the other things, it took me months to finish a painting for example, and I was never going to be very good, besides work has dominated my life for years, so the wise thing overall was to use what spare time I had for what matters the most and that has to be my writing; everything else was a pastime and time passes far too quickly on its own these days without looking for things to fill it.

I can still remember how to make an origami water bomb but that's it. The frogs and cranes have all gone.

Oh, Beth. This is simply lovely. The post, the pictures, the sentiment: the whole multifaceted thing.

Yes, a jewel of an essay. Thank you, Beth. Lovely and loving. Such a sense, reading, how we pass on the loving gifts we're given, too - this post a gift from your mother to you to your readers, in a direct and generous line. You do look so happy in that photo!

Your last two posts have touched me in a very personal way. I want to print them and keep them in a notebook.

I admire and envy the way you manage to get to the essence of things, with clarity and emotion but without sentimentality.

And I LOVE that smiley picture of you!

You were very lucky, indeed. My mother, always with the best of intentions, tended to be too overbearing to support my creativity, always wanting to point me in the way she thought I was most skilled or showed the most ability.

As a mother of three, I conciously have tried not to inhibit my children in their natural interests. I know without a doubt that I have been less than perfectly successful, but I also know I've done well enough that most of their endeavors are their own. I support them as best I can. I hope someday they look back at their childhood with such gratitude and such love.

Beautiful and very touching post.

Oh Beth. What a beautiful essay. Never be afraid to share the beautiful :-) There is so much to learn.

thank you...

Truly beautiful, and full of chiming truth. Thank you.

Those of us not so fortunate need all the more to hear about mothers who were a support and a joy to their children. It's true that we sometimes envy how simple and straightforward your grief is, and know that ours will never be like that. But -- especially if we're parents -- we need to know that it can unfold differently.

There you go with your reds and greens again! It's always Christmas around here, isn't it? But you made me cry, goddamnit.

I agree with Rachel and Dale: we need more narratives of happiness out there. Many of the most common ones make piss-poor templates: happiness through competitive achievement, for example, or happiness through obedience. Worst of all is the fact that ultimate happiness is so commonly understood to be perpetual bliss, whether in the hear-and-now or forestalled until after death. Pernicious notions. Thanks for challenging all that in such a subtle and effective manner.

I think I know exactly how origami was invented...

Fed up with staring
at a blank page, I fold
a paper airplane.

Lovely and wonderful.

(and I covet those glasses, by the way.)

Oh, Beth, again. Beautiful, moving and making me think of my parents (I was lucky too). I agree with everyone's comments here.

Yes, beautiful and moving, Beth. And so much is so familiar — in many respects you could have been writing about my own mother. The only point about which I'd like to hope you might be wrong is in the claim you're unusually fortunate in who she was: perhaps you (we) are indeed rich and privileged to have had such (a) mum(s) (crikey that's clumsy; sorry), but I hope that such good fortune is shared by many others. I suspect it's a forlorn hope, but it's clear from some of the comments that what you've written so beautifully here is both affirmation and encouragement for those trying to pass this kind of richness to their own children. Thanks Beth.

This essay is a beautiful gift to your mother, and what a lovely gift to give at Christmastime.... Thank you for letting us all see.

i am one of the unfortunate ones when it comes to mothers encouraging creativity but i thank you for writing what you did. you have shown me that i've been holding back from being as creative as i was as a child in order to hide that side from my mother as a sort of punishment to her. reading this piece was a release for me in the best possible way! thanks, sincerely.

I have a friend who says the thing about your mother is, "There is someone always watching you." ... someone always on your side ... again, as you note, if your are lucky. And many of us have been blessed with this mother's love.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. My mom is 82 now and her physical heart is failing. Your words are yet another wakeup call - time is ticking. Enjoy the moment.

If I knew in advance of my passing that my children might commemorate me as movingly, it would certainly take the edge off oblivion! How blessed you were & what a strength to carry forward.

Beth, what they all said. I share all of the feelings you describe so well and in many ways, my mother was like yours and I too am endlessly grateful to her and to my father. I love the photo of you, smiling with all your heart, so confident, so completely present in that moment.
The origami jewels are beautiful too.

This has been with me since I read it yesterday, and I too want to say that, as someone who doesn't have such memories, I value and am moved all the more by the sharing of yours. I don't suppose that as a young teenager you were smiling and confident at every moment - who is? - , but this photo of you entirely present, happy and absorbed in a moment of creativity is indeed a jewel - I'm so happy that you found it.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.