I know that night follows day and that day follows night. I know that during the winter the days don’t last that long and sometimes when you get up in the morning the night never seems to want to relinquish its hold, but eventually the sun rises and there is a glimmer of light.
I was once told by a very wise woman that you have to go through the dark times to find the light.
“It’s better to find the light switch and turn on the light than it is to get blinded by the brightness.” She would tell me.
I’ve since found out that the reason my aunties house smelled so strange was that she was a total pot head and away with the fairies most of her life, but that doesn’t matter to me, she was still a very beautiful, kind and wise old woman. I say old but when I do the math she was, as I was young then, my age as I am now, and I’m just as eccentric as she was.
She gave me a love for life that no one else in my family possessed. In my parents wedding photos, she stood proud at the front in her fur coat and pearls, both of which seem obscene today, but way back in the 1950’s she would have been considered the “bee’s knees”. Never understood that expression.
I remember her hair, it was always different, it’s amazing how many different wigs she had, however as she lay in her hospital bed unadorned, it struck me that she had the longest most beautiful grey hair.
She always wore clothes of multitudinous colours, it was as if she could carry a rainbow around with her and avoid the inevitable clash that would take place on everyone else.
She could also paint, she painted landscapes and forests and I seem to be following in her footsteps, but I’m living in complete darkness at the moment as far as my art is concerned, waiting for a masterpiece to appear. I’ve tried visualisation, I’ve tried experimenting with different mediums and I’ve tried different themes and subjects. However, I always come back to the same thing. My paintings always look as though they have been created by a well-meaning 2-year-old that has been set free on a giant bed with body paints. But it’s OK, I don’t mind, I’m patient and I believe in the afterlife. When I’m dead and cremated and some entrepreneur discovers my work in a lost back street shop somewhere, I’ll be looking down on everyone and taking in the praise of a master. Until then I’ll continue to be awesome in my own little dark world.
At this point you are supposed to feel sorry for me and say,
Go on, it will sound good, say it out loud, I want to imagine that woman opposite you on the train looking up and wondering what the hell you’re doing and then imagine you having to explain ME to them. Oh, I love the cruelness.
OOPs sorry I didn’t realise you’d reached the public toilet, now you will have to explain the strange noises that you made in the cubicle. Yep, I’m laughing.
My point is, that the darkness doesn’t scare me anymore.
When I was young I was told to eat my carrots so that I could see in the dark. I told mum not to be silly and turn on the light. I got a clout around the earhole for that from my dad. When I told my aunt, she laughed. I was only repeating what she had said and felt really upset that she had got me into trouble but I remember she let me help her make a bread pudding to make up for it, and take some home. She was the best cook in the whole wide World.
That’s not the kind of darkness I’m talking about, I’m talking about that place you get stuck in when everything seems to get on top of you. It first hit me when I realised that Mandy was leaving home and that Mark could, if I left him to it, care for himself. I was quite literally being made redundant. I mean, honestly me, a mother, a wife, no longer needed. It was the darkest period of my life, and not a bloody light switch to be found.
I tried everything to get over it, I tried to be the ever-loving wife and made cakes, lots of cakes, I was the cake maker to the entire town, the town wasn’t that big. I tried the church, yes, and no, not to worship you understand, I’m not religious and I told the Reverend that. Now he really was a character. A Texan, brilliant man, he wore the Stetson and the boots when not in the pulpit and even then, I’m sure I could see spurs. He agreed to allow me to help out with the Girls Brigade and the OAP Sunday lunches and not have to come to church, but I somehow felt obliged. It wasn’t that much of a hardship, but I felt like a hypocrite. Honestly though I wasn’t out of place, have you ever noticed how many Once a Week Christians there are in this World. Take the Blonde that use to sit at the back. She used to prop the bar up at the local drinking hole and I can name at least six, erhm, no, I won’t, that’s gossip. Let’s just say she took the term Love Thy neighbour a tad too literally. But there she was every Sunday singing for her virtue.
I tried voluntary work, that gave me a second career and a full time pay job, which lasted a year. Still don’t understand what I was thinking about nor how I got the post, don’t even remember applying.
Dark, dark days, I actually thought I was going mental, and not in the clinical sense, that I could have handled with a trickcyclist and some pill popping. No this was a madness of the “It’s the end of an Era,” type, and I hated it.
Now my aunt died during this time and it was amazing how quickly everything that denoted who and what she was disappeared. I decided to leave a respectable time between her funeral and asking for one of her painting to put up in my home as a reminder of how much she meant to me. She had always told me that I could pick one and take it home and I always said I would and never got around to it. The teapots in the kitchen shaped like thatched cottages were to be left to me, but she never got around to making a will, and I didn’t have the heart to ask her two granddaughters.
The house was sold and every time I passed it, there was something different, the curtains changed, the tree in the front garden was taken down, the hanging baskets went and the drive way was concreted. By the time I asked for the painting it seems that they had all been sold and I never found out to whom nor have I ever found one on the market, I still look from time to time, but to no avail. The teapots, well, they were priceless, and I have one that is similar, but not the same, hers had real thatch on them, this one doesn’t. None of this helped and I sunk deeper and deeper into darkness. My aunts life was dissolved as if she never existed and I could see mine going the same way.
Don’t panic, this isn’t a sad story, you see I found the light switch, it was there all along. I just had to remember how to turn it on.
I first realised that I needed to do something when I had the oven accident. It is not funny when you put a plastic tub of margarine in a hot oven thinking it’s the fridge or was it that I thought the tub was something else, quite honestly, I don’t know and I didn’t really care, all I know is it cost me the price of a new oven as I couldn’t bring myself to clean it, and I made a trip to the doc, who instantly gave me hormone boosters. Turns out that I was at that “age”.
Talk about turning the bloody light on, turned the World upside down. Sod losing my daughter to the big bad World, bugger that, I was a free woman. I didn’t have to be home to cook the dinner any more, nor did I have to go to work, hell, what are husbands for if not to make up for the crap us women have put up with for the years we’ve raised kids, dealt with mother-in-law’s, been nice to his friends, even the crappy ones and had to pretend to like so many useless boyfriends of daughters. I deserve a break.
The truth is even though I no longer work, per say, I have never been as busy as I am now. Mark has his twanging and playing Robin Hood with his bows and arrows, Mandy goes off doing weird and wonderful things and me, well I thought I’d be a shining star. Actually, I’m more like the flash of an uncontrolled WWII bomb that has just gone off after years of lying dormant. I’ll blind the fluffers. I’m going out with a bang.
I owe my eccentricity to my aunt, my flair for the dramatic, yep, I tried acting, but I’m afraid there are only so many times you can play the little old lady in a rocking chair. I’ve tried singing, but no one seems to appreciate the sound of a crow scratching down a blackboard with bronchitis, I’m now learning to play the guitar, I can get a G out of it, it’s a start, don’t be so cynical, my tutor says I pluck beautifully.
I still haven’t mastered colour, the bright orange top I bought has been placed in a Hazchem bag in the back of the wardrobe for now, well at least until the World is ready for it. Mark said it was lovely and he’s sure that when the aliens invade it will be the shining beacon for their landing site. What with my red and blue hair, I thought it looks quite cool until a five-year-old mentioned that I looked like the clown they had drawn. To be honest it was a good picture.
I think I needed the dark time to allow the light in. I can now see what I’m doing and I’ve stopped stumbling.
So, I’m not scared of the dark anymore and when I wake up some mornings and the Sun doesn’t shine I try to remember that there is a light switch, I just have to find it and turn it on.