My online shop

Category — letters

Getting through

Hello February, you scoundrel of a month.

I remember my father trying to talk to me when I was a know it all teenager of about 15. He gently tried to explain that often life gets tough, and that sometimes beyond circumstances that you can control, it just is unexplainably hard, with pressure building and hopefulness fading. I thought then that most adults, particularly my parents were idiots. I couldn’t wait to be a grown up, and what really could be so very hard about it? Big bunch of whingers I remember thinking.

I’ve been a grown up for a few months now, and finally I am just getting it. I feel beyond sadness that he is no longer here for me to tell him he was right. But many of his words stay. Blue February days can be toughies. You know those days. Nothing is technically wrong. All the bills have just about been paid, the house insurance is up to date, you haven’t missed a meeting or dental appointment. You and your partner are speaking, and the children are sort of behaving. Yet its hard to make it through, and you astutely avoid all internet images of kittens lest you start weeping, and never stop. Oh dear. 

So never mind what puts us there, what gets us through? The thought that winter is passing? A long hot bath? Brand new girl boxers ordered off the internet late at night? I really have no idea. 

I do know that attempting to knit slinky jumpers on circular needles with under arm cast offs, when I can barely knit a straight scarf, is not the cleverest. I also know Netflix and 82% dark chocolate is a no-no after 10pm. 

I want my dad. I want him to finish the other part of the conversation that he started 35 years ago. What is supposed to happen next? Do I just carry on? (keeping calm obviously NOT being an option; I have my Mars in Leo for goddsake). 

My default setting is clearly a cross between Joyce Grenfell and Doris Day – bracing walks in the countryside are embarked on, and plenty of good, wholesome food (ignoring the bad influence of best friend eating family packs of chocolate bourbons, I shall not fall madam….).

I bury myself in work, and try to stick to the surprising and quirky. Like finding badgers painted on gateposts, stacks of old letters from the 1930’s in the community recycling, and a gorgeous ginger cake mix sent spontaneously in the post by a lovely woman I’ve never met. 

And if it weren’t for the fact that I’m often held to ransom by a jack russel terrorist then its possible that February could be quite dandy after all……

February 21, 2014   3 Comments


Martha Tilston – Simple

I remember how simple simplicity used to be, before I tried too hard and chased it away,

It would float in, flow through and out of me, complication – well I rue the day.

I’m gonna get right, right to the heart of it, I was bigger when I was nothing at all,

Just another pilgrim marching to the sunset, and it didn’t matter if I got there, it’s the journey of it all.

It didn’t matter if I got there, it didn’t matter if I got there, it never matters if you get there, it’s the journey of it all.

Well I’m gonna get back there, back to the heart of things, I knew everything when nothing at all,

Just another pilgrim marching to the sunset, and it didn’t matter if I got there, there’s power in being small.

Listen to Simple here

How much do I love this favourite song of mine, sang by the wonderful Martha Tilston. Why do I let simplicity float in and around me and then chase it away again? Here is my week of simple, or my attempt at a week of simple. Loving what is right around me, around my home, directly around my neighbourhood. I haven’t travelled more than a few hundred meters to find it.

The first flowers opening in my back garden.

A birthday present for my favourite wee boy three doors along

Linens drying gently in the breeze in my neighbour’s garden.

Lunch, eaten in the sunshine

Looking at treasure in Jilly’s cabin, and celebrating her latest find for Delight.

Showing Harry how to see if you like butter, just as my grandmother showed me when I was a little girl

A small crocheted distraction from the 7 mile long pink peace scarf

An early morning walk with Herb.

Learning to share, in the park

My daughter’s handwritten letters to each of her special friends, as they celebrated their last day of school

I’m not sure why I find ‘simple’ so very hard to find sometimes. Thank you Martha for the lovely reminder….

June 7, 2013   3 Comments

A Letter to You (Rudy)

What can I tell you, what can I write, that you don’t already know?

I could write and tell you that my life is what March should be – daffodils, sunshine, earth warming and waiting to be turned. But it wouldn’t be true. Not while there are blizzards, and a dirty, smoking stove in my kitchen. I could write and tell you that I have so very many exciting things to do, projects and paintings planned, but here I sit, quietly unfocused on my sofa.

I could write and tell you that as my family leap out in to a waiting world, I am happy to be at home, sorting, making order out of chaos, slowly getting it together. But that would be a lie.

I could write to tell you that I have painted walls white, that light is flooding in, that all is simple, and sparkling, clean and new. I could also perhaps tell you the bigger truth, that I have wrecklessly ripped up the old carpets on the stairway that have vexed me for so long, when I know that I cannot afford to replace them, and hate the clanking of impatient feet up and down those empty boards.

Maybe I could just not write to you at all. Let the silence fall, watch those uncollected words float away, off into the snowstorms. But you already know that I cannot stand by and let words escape, when life may be so short and so very precious.

What is to happen then, as I wait for spring time, wait for change? Pause, and breathe, slowly, deeply, trust that there are pathways as yet unseen. Trust that there is a plan, that there is a reason for this place, this feeling. Surrender to the possibility that I am right where I need to be, in a place that I chose. This I will write to you.

This you already know.

March 15, 2013   1 Comment

Letter to Dad

I am walking in Stroud, across the bare December fields, and it seems like a dream that you are not here in the world. Are you walking beside me anyway, and I just can’t see you? We have done this so many times, tromping through the mud in our wellie boots, you and I.

I miss you.

In fact I miss you in  a hundred ways, that are not yet real to me. Not while your clothes are still in your cupboard, your emails to me on my computer, your last photo I took, still on my camera. I wanted so much to be able to say goodbye. But if I could have done, what would I have said that could have come close to the hole that is now in my life, the imprint of you.

If I could knit a huge blanket of you around me, in the most wonderful colours, it would be of all the hilarious things you saw in people, that made me laugh. It would be of your kindness, your grumpiness and intolerance. It would be of your love for your family and friends, it would have boats and books and Hong Kong woven right through it.

I am sorry dad, that you didn’t have more time to travel to far flung places, to enjoy more pints, to walk more pathways. That you didn’t see Theo’s first rugby match or watch Holly grow taller than me. And also that you might not get this letter telling you that I am proud of you, that I have loved you through each and every one of my 39 years.

I will listen for you in the wind.

Love Jaine x

It is quiet in the hospital, just the noise of watchful machines whirring and beeping. I sit by your bedside and put my face on your warm, brown, familiar arm, and pretend to be a child again. Smell you, and feel you while I still can. I touch your face, and try to press enough memory of you onto my fingertips to last me for a lifetime. I look at how your eyelashes curl perfectly upwards. Your ring is still on your little finger. I curl your quiet hand into mine, folding a rose petal that I have picked this morning from your garden into your palm – a secret from another time.

I sing your favourite songs to you, James Taylor, Simon and Garfunkle, and whisper messages into your ears – words that just might reach you in time, in that deep place where you are now.

It is said that when someone dies, we cry not just for them, but for all the deaths we live through, big and small. Sad waves of remembering washing wetly over us. This is a strange and terrible river that I have fallen into. I now realise that it has been flowing silently beside me for all of my life; as the certainty that people I love will die. What a shock to be in its icy waters suddenly. I surrender to its cold, let it carry me along, despairing that I will ever be dry, warm, happy, whole.

Today I lie on the floor, not sure how I got to be here, and stare up at my sitting room from this different place of looking. Death can be so like birth – just in reverse, a struggle, a letting go. And for the people that are left – we enter a strange land with no map through no choice of our own.

Some days I break into many pieces, and I wonder how deep into our bones this relentless pain can travel? I feel like an iceberg floating in a cold, lonely sea. Bits of me keep breaking off, floating away – there’s another bit gone – I’m in a slow meltdown, that no one sees. A friend says ‘don’t forget to breathe’ and I realise that I have in a way. I yawn and stretch, and inhale deeply until I begin to feel a little better.

It’s been five years Dad, since I wrote you my letter. Your ashes have been scattered in all sorts of interesting places, and I think that is how you would have like it. This tree is a beautiful copper beech tree near to my house, we’ve walked past it many times together. Some of your ashes are buried near to its roots, and it is here that I come to talk to you. It’s maybe a bit silly, but each time I pass, I pick up a leaf and tuck it into my clothing, next to my skin. Hours later, when I’ve long forgotten what we chatted about that morning, it flutters out and on to the floor.

Each year, I remember those last days with you, the road trip we never got to take, the many things I didn’t get around to asking you. It gets easier and it gets harder. I miss you more. I am not sure you would even recognise me these days, and the children outgrew me many many moons ago! But it is all o.k, the pieces that matter are woven tightly in, and the bits I no longer need to hold will someday soon be let go of …to be carried to you on the wind.

November 23, 2012   9 Comments