MY MOTHER DIED SIX YEARS AGO TODAY
13th October 2015, Khao Lak
I woke up this morning in Thailand, my first visit to this beautiful place. My Beloved and I are in a villa, aptly although somewhat arrogantly, named The Elite Villas. I feel elite here in this spacious, bamboo lined, cushion strewn, elegant space. The bathroom is the same size as the bedroom, which is the size of a tennis court, and filled with sparkling steel and tiles. The ceiling is thirty feet high, raked with wood and bamboo in intricate patterns, similar to those in Mexico, which are made of bricks and called something like' loaf of bread' ceilings. There are tables and sofas and the bed is seven feet wide and seven feet long, covered in soft white linen, fans spin lazily, and through massive glass doors which slide into the wall is a flower filled courtyard and a swimming pool with a water feature. There are huge wicker sofas covered with coloured pillows and tropical foilage and palm trees surround high walls which ensure total privacy, atop of which squirrels run on occasion. They sometimes leave the remnants of a midnight feast of nuts and fruit scattered amongst our bright orange towels. We are completely alone unless we choose to leave and walk through acres of gardens to the main hotel complex, which is filled with an army of staff to tend to our every need - and there is artwork, amazing designer furniture, restaurants, swimming pools and at the far end, an impossibly white beach lapped with the Andaman Ocean of calm, milky blue green water and fringed with palm trees. Yesterday, we met a baby elephant on the beach, whom I fed the bananas and apples I had prepared, as she wrapped her trunk around my arm and left elephant snot on my blouse. My heart exploded as it always does with small living creatures, and I wondered what Tracey our doggy grooming lady would say, if next week I told her that Cino would be coming along for a shampoo and set with a new member of our family, Onedee, the baby Thai elephant. Onedee means "Happy Morning" - and this baby elephant indeed makes the morning happy.
How easy it is to create new habits, although in our coaching career, we 'know' it takes three or more months to do so. I find not. In the week we have been here, we already have a daily ritual. We wake early, as always, about 6 - 6.30 am. Whoever is up first makes the tea for me and coffee for Gerald, and lays out my three Thyroxicol tablets, without which I would die. I slide those big glass doors back and plunge naked into the pool with the infinity edge and the uneven flooring. The water is as warm as a womb, I imagine, and I float, thinking about what it was like to be a baby inside that sacred space. Can I remember? As warm as this water is, it is still not warm enough for my Beloved, he needs to wait a few more hours for the sun to bring it to a simmer. I take my I phone and tea and sit, damp, my bum leaving prints on the canvas of the sofa, and check in with my Face Book world. As always, the dogs and cats and elephants and lion stories catch my eye and my heart. Today I leave private messages for my friends, telling them that the first thing I saw when I went to the loo this morning, was a pink feather, highlighted on a white towel on the floor in the bathroom.
Most mornings we do our Tantric meditation, a beautiful practice which grounds us in our love for each other and powerfully connects us at the start of each day. Then we shower, and head to a yoga class on the beach. There are a dozen people in a semi circle of mats, facing the ocean, and we start with breathing to the rhythm of the waves, rolling in, rolling out, and 60 minutes of poses and relaxation. What could be more beautiful than lying on a sandy beach under a palm tree, honouring our health and our bodies, kissed by an early morning sun?
Then dusted like lamingtons with sand, we head to breakfast, careful to avoid the smokers who can potentially ruin a good meal. A good anything. We eat small bowl fulls of food - so many of them, of fresh, tangy, delicious fruit and fish and vegetables and cheese, and today we have a glass of champagne to wash it down. What a way to start the day. Our conversation seldom lags. Even after fifty years, we have much to discuss. And I have noticed in the last week how often we laugh together, at ourselves, and at each other. Last night we watched a movie we have seen many times "Meet the Fokkers". That makes us belly laugh. Our son, we think, sees us both in the parents - me in Barbra Streisand as the wacky sex therapist mother, and Gerald in Dustin Hoffman as the loving, hands on, open-putting- his-foot-in-it father. And we see our son in Ben Stiller, issuing instructions to his parents on how to behave, acutely embarrassed and very uncomfortable in his parents 'being themselves' - pleading with them to "be yourselves - but less yourselves .... you know ...." We try hard with our son, and in his eyes I think we generally fail to do the right thing. Gerald is a measured, quiet man, butI can generally be counted on to be an embarrassment. It's comforting to know both Barbra and Dustin feel they stuffed it up all the time too.
After breakfast, we head to the pool to secure two of the prime spots - the comfortable lounges positioned in six inches of water, under umbrellas, facing the ocean, where we spend a comfortable hour or two reading, swimming in the breast milk ocean or in one of the several pools, slathering on 50+ sunscreen. Carefully leaving items of ownership on our lounges, ie water bottle, cap, towel and book - we head down the beach to Sah, the local masseur we discovered 5 days ago. She runs an establishment under a thatched roof, overlooking a lagoon we have to cross by wading thigh deep in water - or using a rickety looking bamboo bridge with many planks missing - ( which is actually very sturdy) - to get to the people with the magic hands. Here we spend an indulgent hour being massaged by a variety of smiling women and her son, Ball - being nurtured, stroked, fed fruit and cosseted with cool damp cloths. We are hugged often, and kissed on both cheeks. This is the place you come to if you feel a bit lost or lonely or sad. Or if you heart aches for your Mom. God Bless Sah.
The sun is now baking and we head back to our villa, where the air conditioning and our pool await, silence and comfort, and the joy of each other. Now it is time for a gin and tonic for me, and a cool Chang beer for Gerald, as we stand in the pool, enjoying the feel of cool water on bare flesh.
Gerald works on his computer or reads. I have already read three books in the week we have here, and post photos of our impossibly indulgent life here in Thailand on Face Book. I write, although not as much as I thought I would. I am tired, I have been very tired since the flood and the resultant weeks of hard work. I spent the last fourteen days compiling a defence and many documents for David, our friend, in an effort to keep his job when he was unfairly and unexpectedly suspended from work. I took on being legal, medical, and management expert, and finally submitted our defense two days prior to our departure, leaving a small window of time to pack and prepare for our holiday.
So sleep claims me often, healing, restorative sleep. I see my face in the mirror, and I can see the creases diminishing, my skin plumping, my eyes brightening - and I know this is all goodness.
We make love often during our days here. This setting provides many romantic opportunities and the heat and the lack of clothing and the privacy combine to create magic. We wonder how many times we have made love over fifty one years, and marvel at how it gets better all the time. Gerald has suggested a gift for his birthday in two days time - a challenge I am up for - how many orgasms can a man have in one day? Ha ha. I like this, and have begun training in earnest.
We eat a small lunch next to the pool - hard boiled eggs and a couple of slices of cheese pilfered from breakfast so we don't have to leave our room, and fruit - if there is any left, as the baby elephant gets most of what is in our fruit bowl. We read and I fall asleep for an hour, woken by the sound of Gerald making peppermint tea for me and a coffee for him. I cool down by sliding into the pool and wallowing, making loud sounds of appreciation just like my Dad used to do.
I write. Then it is time to shower and get ready for dinner. Gerald has a beer which we purchased along with some South African wine from a small shop at the end of the long driveway into the hotel, it is so much cheaper, quieter and more fun than the hotel bar, and once again, we do not have to leave our room, even for happy hour. Dressing here is easy, light cotton and linen for both of us, and sandals.
It takes about six minutes to walk to the hotel restaurant through gardens and ponds with water features, through a vast lobby populated with smiling staff. So far we have had a seafood buffet, an international buffet to celebrate Loy Krathong night, a night to celebrate the history of Thailand, and a cook your own BBQ at your own table, a Thai cookery class which lasted all of 12 minutes from start to when we started to eat, (Spicy Glass Noodle Salad and Fried Rice Noodles with Tamarind Sauce), a four course meal on the night we arrived in the Siam Restaurant - (where we eat breakfast every day as we are "Elite") - but we were bug eyed and too tired to appreciate it, and a meal in the Friends Restaurant. Apart from the cook your own BBQ at your own table, which was outstanding, the food has been good, but not exceptional. We love to eat at the Krua Thai, on the other side of the rickety bridge, where the food is outstanding. Giant tiger prawns in basil and garlic and chili, fried duck curry with lemongrass and chili, green chicken curry, green papaya salad, prawns in ginger and chili - everything with chili, and everything absolutely delicious. A substantial meal for two, plus a tonic for me (I carry a secret supply of gin in a water bottle) and a couple of beers for Gerald - and the meal is around Aussie $20 all up.
After dinner, we walk back in the dark through strings of lights along the beach and over the bridge and along the pathways to our room. It's only 8.15 pm or thereabouts. Time to strip off, plunge into our little pool and cool off, pour a drink, and settle down in front of the large television to watch a movie - there is one every night, no adverts, at 8.30 pm which finishes around 10 pm. We struggle to keep our eyes open to see the end, laughing and nudging each other to wake up. Nightly ablutions and another dip in the cool pool, and we slide into those every day fresh white sheets. We have a nightly ritual which we learned in Tantra several years ago. We never go to sleep without acknowledging each other for three things. In the same way our morning meditation connects us to start our day, this completes our day, and I am often moved to tears by the blessings we have shared and speak out loud to each other.
So for two weeks, this is my life here Mother. I know you would be dancing with happiness, clapping your hands in glee if you were to read this. This kind of chill out, love in, eat up, drink up Fest is exactly what you always had in mind for Gerald and I. You were forever encouraging us to "slow down, take a break, get some rest". When I padded out of bed at dawn this morning to the toilet, the first thing I saw in brilliant contrast to the white towel on the white floor was a shocking pink feather from a feather boa. This feather, and many others like it, came from the feather boas we (me, Susan, Tina, Sue, June and others) wore at your funeral, as a way to honour you and your joy and passion for life. I always have a couplein my handbag, my make up bag, my underwear drawer, my car, my bedside cabinet. So this one obviously - or maybe not - arrived somehow in my belongings, and placed itself on the bathroom floor overnight. I heard your cheerful voice - "Morning Babe!" I know this is your way of letting me know that you is here with me, every day, but particularly today on the anniversary of your death. Feathers are your calling card, particularly pink feathers, your unique way of communicating with me, and I find them all over the world.
To commemorate your life and death I posted a picture today on FB, of you and me and Joshua on the day he was born, when he was 20 minutes old. You have the most wonderful look of love and pride on your face, and you are gazing at me as if I was the Madonna, and in your arms you hold Baby Joshua. I am gazing back at you both with such love, it makes me weep. The response to this post has been astonishing, an outpouring of love from old friends and new ones, people who never even met you but have heard of you through me and the stories of others, about your capacity for love, several friends said that you were the best mother ever, and how much they loved you, how much they miss you, what a fun loving and awesome woman you were, how like you I am. That made me feel especially happy. There are 50 something 'likes' - something you would appreciate Mother. Even Joshua likes it. Can a 'like' be a 'love'? You were loved. You ARE loved.
I know you are still here with me, and that your spirit travels - even Jane says that you must be here in Thailand with us, as you don't visit her during yoga in Brisbane the last few days! - and Sue channeled you today and she called me your 'one eyed girl' today. Who else would put those words in her mouth?
You left a legacy Mother, and you are so missed. Thank you for being my mother, for choosing me and teaching me and guiding me and scolding me and including me and living by example and loving me beyond death. Infinite love and gratitude.