The most valuable gift I received when I left home

I have a couple of very faded, stapled sheets of blue airmail paper, endlessly folded and unfolded, tired yet enduring, useful beyond measure.  They sit poking out of my pen mug by my computer, and before that, from my Filofax. This ancient prop is the list of family and close friends’ birthdays that my  mother wrote out for me and sent when I moved to distant shores a hundred years ago.

A simple capitalised month with a line underneath, a list of names , each with number next to it. The critical date. Sometimes helpful additional information in parenthesis – an association, a reminder where they fit into things.  Spattered and squeezed into the spaces are my own additions over years. The friends, and friends who became family, of the last 25 years.

This list from my mother enabled me to stay connected to the land and people I chose to leave behind (at the time not knowing for how long).

It kept me in the loop, able to send cards, or later emails, then texts, then video messages to people I cared about.

That list reminded me where I came from, my clan of origin, most of them blood not all, some those critical people in life that despite sometimes years of absence and very little knowing of each other, will open their door and hearts to you if you need it at any time.

It’s a slice of history, a reminder of my beautiful mum, and a genuinely invaluable resource.

There are three rogue entires on my blue list. The last three read: St Georges Day January 1st, New Years Day January 1st, and Have a Nice Day – everyday.

Thanks Mum.


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