• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 06

What the Waves Have Taught Me

She drove the car, carefully but swiftly – three wheels of rattling, draughty fibreglass – it’s pig nose pushing into traffic, snuffling its way down through the cars parked on either side of the road. Other drivers always stopped, gave way, acquiesced. And the hand would go up. Not a tiny flick, not a finger or two, but the whole hand. Slender fingers, the 3rd encased in the thick wedding band that she never took off.

She taught me to be appreciative, to look people in the eyes and acknowledge their humanity.

She rode the horse, carefully but swiftly – four huge, feathered hooves – shaking the ground as she passed, peeping over hedges into houses she could never afford, not with longing but with curiosity. Cars always stopped at the baffling sight of the tiny woman taking on the herculean task of the snorting, gleaming gelding. Her crisp blue perfectly ironed shirt, incongruous in the summer heat. And the arm would go up. A clear signal to the whole county – a thank you from all riders to all drivers.

She taught me to be compassionate, to understand society.

She baked the cake, carefully but swiftly – two hands rubbing sugar and butter – no weighing scales in sight, she just knew, as a magician knows their well-practised tricks. It was as if she had been born knowing how to bake. There was never a recipe book in the house. She wrapped the cake in greaseproof, making a perfect parcel of banana-flavoured love that would last a week. She’d stand on the doorstep and the arm would go up – high above her head and it would stay there until I could no longer see her in the rearview mirror.

She taught me to show love, to pour love into everything I do.


What the Waves Have Taught Me

She moved towards the end, carefully but swiftly – two lungs gently rattling but her powerful heart still pounding so hard that I could hear it. I’m sure I could hear it mixing with the sound of bluetits busily building their nest outside her window. She loved bluetits, she loved Spring. She loved life. As I left, just the tips of her fingers lifted from the bed cover. The last wave.

She taught me dignity, she taught me to smile in the face of adversity. She taught me everything.