Chapter 1. New beginnings, strange happenings.
Mothers and daughters are supposed to get on, have a close relationship, a special bond, but that’s not been my experience. We don’t even have the same interests. I suppose looking back on it I think there were times when she, Mum, should have taken my side, should have been looking out for me, should have protected me but she was away with the fairies and didn’t even notice what was going on. I blamed her instead of my Dad. Now that I am older I know that’s not fair and because of my own children I want to re-connect, to forgive the past and move on. That’s why I drove her to the session today. A beautiful early summer day in Margate what wasn’t there to like? A drive to the seaside with time for bonding on the journey. The ‘session’ we headed for was an extra special gathering of mediums. This of course is part of the problem. As far back as I can remember my mother has been a ‘spiritual medium’, she talks to the dead, and she is really big in that world. Always going to conferences, doing private sessions, seances and leading the movement to get global recognition. But I am not a believer, I think it's all hokum. I guess that’s why she doesn’t have and never has had the time for me. I don’t have ‘the gift’. I think it makes her sad. So today is a double whammy, I brought her to one of her sessions even though I have no faith. I started out with the best of intentions. But I just couldn’t stay for the whole thing. I have too many childhood memories of endless evenings in half empty, dingy old meeting halls, dry dust with the lingering smell of beeswax and desperate people with hopes, wishes, desires soon to be dashed, or at best fobbed off. On the up side the weather was gorgeous. Ducking out of the session felt like escaping, I won a surprise moment of ‘me’ time. I really fancied an ice cream on the seafront and why not! A brisk walk on the pier followed by the indulgence of a childhood treat - a delicious creamy whipped cone with a flake, a full 99! Walking through the square with the renovated shops, restaurants and cafes coming out to the parade I headed up to the Turner Contemporary and thought about a flat white out on the terrace...no, brisk walk and ice-cream won. There were only a few people out for a walk, those marching to the end and back, the pram pushers, and the young couples dawdling, climbing the sea wall and laughing as they slid back down. It felt good. Making it to the end of the pier enjoying the sea smells looking at the boats (or are they ships) in the sea and a few lolling in the bay I turned back. While I was looking out for the ice cream van, a woman spoke to me, I was wrapped up in my own thoughts. “Excuse me” then louder “Excuse me”. It took a moment to realise that she was talking directly to me. Dressed up for a special ‘day out’ her soft ‘chiffony’ dress was blowing in the breeze and she had a matching pink hat clutched to her head though I hadn’t thought the wind was strong enough to blow anything away. “Would you mind? See that woman over there, the one with the two children and her husband?” I did, and nodded. “Would you mind telling her that I’m okay, I’m fine, not to worry, I’m happy over here. I’m her mother.” The little family group were sitting on the edge of the pier, feet dangling over the edge but not touching with water, they looked happy and were laughing. In fact they were sitting right in the middle of my way to the ice-cream van. “No problem, I’m going that way.” She nodded and smiled. I wondered why she wouldn’t do it herself, maybe she just wanted longer on her own, I absolutely understood that. Anyway I wandered on, not rushing, taking it all in, smelling, feeling, and thinking it was doing me a lot of good. Time to just ‘be’. I reached the family and called out to them and much like it had with me it took a few ‘excuse-me’s to get their attention. I spoke directly to the woman. “You mother asked me to tell you that she’s fine and happy over there.” And I pointed to where I had seen her. As I turned back, I noticed the colour had drained from the woman's face. “Is this a joke? It's cruel. You shouldn’t do this to people!!” Her eyes filled with tears and the others were completely silent. “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.” I didn’t know what to say so I just went on. “She said, that’s my daughter over there pointing to you, tell her I’m fine, not to worry, I’m happy over here. That’s all”. “What did she look like?” I described the pink hat, the dress, the soft grey curls, a little bit of make-up, blue eye-shadow…. Shrieks, cries and “Oh my God! You did see her!” “My mother died a year ago. You have no idea how much this means to me!” The family merged into one large hug. After a lot more cries, tears, hugs and kisses. The mother turned to me. “I have been so sad, worried about her, thinking of her being all alone, I haven’t been dealing with it at all well. I miss her. Most of all I get upset because I thought she was sad. Now I know she is happy, it’s okay, she knew that I needed to hear that to be able to start healing. And today of all days, you know that they say ‘there are no coincidences’? We were due to go to see some special Medium today. I don’t believe in them, my husband thought we should try it anyway, but I just couldn’t face it. The day out, the sea, the air and the kids were all doing a great job of distracting me. Then you came to us anyway. She must have known.” Her face had returned to its normal colour, the streaks in the mascara looked happy, honest, real. “It’s fine, actually I am having difficulty in believing that she wasn’t really there. She still feels very close and happy to see you happy.” I had been looking around expecting to see her behind me. I needed some space to process all of this. I left the family happily engrossed in each other. I made it back to the car, I waited, watching the door as people filed out lingering in small groups to finish conversations. I saw her leaving, touching people to give comfort, saying her good-byes. She looked around trying to see me, I waved through the windscreen and began to get out of the car, but she looked straight past me, stopped still and smiled; still away with the fairies? I followed her gaze and I could see the lady in the pink, nodding, smiling and pointing to me. My mother turned to me, our eyes connected, she smiled. This was the real bond.