Marking A Mark

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Ephemeral tide marks

 

We all want to make a mark – leave some kind of legacy to validate our existence, to say ‘I was here and I mattered’. Though not in the same way as Shelley’s Ozymandias (one of my favourite poems, see below). There’s no place for human hubris in my concept of legacy.

Gardens can be a legacy. Although I’ve never thought of any of my gardens as truly ‘mine’. I understand well my custodial role. The input into any garden of each successive gardener, whether in design, choice of plants or maintaining the essence of the creation, is a collaborative affair, a shifting palette.

I walked on the beach yesterday morning. It was a spectacular autumn day, the kind that fills you to the brim with joy and invites contemplation. As I strolled the tide line I made footprints in the sand and looking back, watched as foamy threads flowed in, then withdrew erasing them, making the sand new again.

Time is like the waves when you think about it; gliding in and out with the ebb and flow of life, erasing the old to make way for the new.

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Kingscliff beach NSW Australia

Well all this pondering on the ‘number of our days’ could be depressing but I choose to look at it as a reminder to make our marks count, however ephemeral they may seem.

My garden slapped me down and beat me up last week. An imprudent step on algae covered stones sent me crashing. A trip in the ambulance and the morning in Emergency revealed a fractured rib. The result has been time in the care of my loving family, and flowers and concern from those absent.

 

Being showered and dressed by one’s young grandchildren (grandson 8 yrs and granddaughter 6 yrs) strips one of any delusions about how ‘well’ one might be ageing. I’ll leave to your imagination gentle reader, the questions and comments from curious young minds about the ravages of time on a body. The worst part was realising that this is a daily reality for many older people, living dependent lives they’d never imagined nor wished for themselves.

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My grandson 2016

The gift in all of this was the mark I believe I was making. Witnessing my vulnerability, the children’s empathy blossomed. A new tenderness that only develops when caring for people you love became apparent as they fetched and carried, helping me upstairs and into bed.

My response mattered. It was leaving a mark on tender young psyches. I tried to make sure it was a good one. I realised that sometimes it involves a gracious allowing of a space for others to make their mark.

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A welcome rest on the contemplation seat – Kingscliff Beach

 

There is a thread that runs through the generations. It’s fibre is spun on the spinning wheel of  past deeds. Just as a garden must be nurtured to become its best possible incarnation, so the integrity of this thread determines the value of the mark it leaves.

 

Ozymandias
“I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
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14 responses to “Marking A Mark

  1. What a lovely, lovely post, Robyn. I have grandchildren exactly the same ages and could so picture myself in that position. Bless. Get better soon and btw, Ozymandias has always been one of my favorite poems.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Marina! I’m feeling much better now. You know then what a joy grandchildren can be. Their perspective on life fascinates me and encourages a new questioning of my own.
      Every time I read Shelley’s poem I get something different from it – isn’t that an indication of great poetry?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve always known that grandparenting is a privilege. (That’s obvious!) Now I see that grandchilding is a privilege too, especially when the grandparent is vulnerable. Thank you, Robyn. And heal soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Rachel! I’m a little behind with my blog reading but less painful each day. Mmm, that could be otherwise construed depending if said grandies are cross with me or not 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Robyn. I missed your presence this past period of time. I figured something had interrupted your posting, though never thought it was because of a mishap. But as you have experienced, your grandchildren have blossomed as they cared for you – indeed, you’ve left a mark.

    A broken rib I’m sure is very painful so I hope you are recovering well. I like that seat at Kingscliff. Many many years ago (let’s say 40) I used to surf down there. Now I just surf on the web. But I always recall how peaceful it was there. You look very relaxed there.

    Continue on with the recovery. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Kim, I had a posting hiatus but recovering well now thanks. I’m still catching up on other people’s posts.
      Kingscliff is so beautiful. It reminds me of the ninety mile beach in Gippsland, Victoria where we spent most school holidays except the weather is much better.
      I hope all is well with you.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ouch! That sounds painful. Glad you have a supportive family to care for you, whilst you mend; being dependent is something I really fear as the years pass by. I cherish my freedom. And I love your beach.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I hope you’re feeling better again soon Robyn. Broken ribs are very painful and worst of all, make it very difficult to do the very thing that promotes healing – laughter! I hope you can sneak in some giggling somewhere – no doubt those grandies will be giving you a few smiles along the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I noticed that there was a gap in your posts, despite the fact I’ve been away on holiday in the South Island, admiring the autumn foliage. And when I’m on holiday I avoid the Internet. Yes! But I did wonder if you were OK, and now I’m glad to hear you’re on the mend. Your comments on your grandchildren reminded me of a story an old friend told me of when she was visiting her family and shared a bedroom with her two little grandsons. The first morning they watched round-eyed as she got dressed. Then one said, in all sincerity, ‘Thank you for showing us your lovely wrinkly body, Grannie.’

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    • You’re very observant and I have to say it’s nice to be missed.
      Your holiday sounds idyllic. Does the foliage change much on the north island? I’ve never been to NZ although its on my bucket list. I’m curious to know how much the north and south differ.
      I love your story Denise. It just confirms for me that children ‘learn’ negative connotations about ageing. I fear they learn it from us. I believe your friend’s openness was good for her grandchildren. I try to be matter of fact about what’s happening to my body by telling them it’s a natural process that they too, will go through one day. Too much for such young minds to grasp I think. But it’s important too, to model what you want them to know and feel about ageing.
      The paradox is of course, we all want long lives but no-one wants to get old (read decrepit)!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I was born in the southern half of the South Island (Fairlie in the splendid Mackenzie country, to be exact) and spent the first 7 years of my life in South Canterbury, Otago, and Southland. Down there the seasons are all very different: snow and bare trees in winter, the misty green new growth and hopeful flowers of spring, the hot, vivid summers, and misty, colourful autumns. Now I live in Wellington, and when we moved here I remember being shocked by the lush greenness of it all. Nowadays, Wellington doesn’t seem particularly lush to me, but children are much closer to the earth (both physically and mentally) than adults are, and I haven’t forgotten my first impressions of a vaguely sinister world of steamy, unbridled growth. And, even though snow here is rare, the damp winters seem more bone-chilling than the drier southern winters are.

        As I age, I find I miss the drama of distinct seasons more and more, and often think of moving back south. The problem is, all my friends and family still in NZ are now in the North Island.

        On ageing bodies: as a little girl I can remember taking baths with my grandmother, who (dressed) remained slim and glamorous into old age. I was fascinated by her skin folds, sags, and wrinkles, in the same way I was fascinated by tree barks and other textures.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I think you’re right about childish perspectives on both accounts. Visiting my home state in the south always finds me a little surprised. The drama of the seasons isn’t quite as I remembered them.
        Your recollections of your grandmother’s body confirm what I had suspected. While children notice the folds and creases their idea of ageing comes from an entirely different perspective – one of curiosity rather than the negative stereotypes that prevail in adulthood. The fact that she was not ashamed to expose herself to your childish scrutiny, spoke volumes to your young self about what ageing meant.

        Liked by 2 people

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