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Monday, March 24, 2008

the journey

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save.

-Mary Oliver
(Dream Work)

When I was around four years old my mother packed up her life and her three small children and moved to France for a year. Most women in her place would find this idea impossible, whishful, crazy even. But my mother felt that it would be crazier to stay. She needed a change, so rather than bitch and moan, she made things happen.

This is one of the many reasons I love my mother. She is a risk taker. Today she turns 59, and she's still braver than ever. Currently the house is on the market and she's planning on moving to France for good. I couldn't be happier, or more impressed with both of my parents.

mom and me

On the side my mother is designing websites, planning a writing workshop, helping her sister deal with the legalities of her divorce and helping me with school essays. Needless to say, she's keeping busy. But this is the thing about her, she's always keeping busy. Her mind is always moving, causing her to sleep little, and take on countless projects. But even after a sleepless night, she does everything perfectly, paying attention to the smallest details.

car trouble

Someone recently asked me what my mother was like. "She's beautiful," I said "Crazy, bohemian, she loves a good burger, she's petite, fun, better dressed than me..." The more I described her the more I remembered how much I love her. All the little things about her, from the way she loves sensual finger foods, or bubble baths, or a glass of wine at five o'clock and a good book. I love the way she wakes up early to write, or sits in cafes with a notebook, and goes to get coffee and a muffin but never finishes her muffin because she's too distracted in thought.


She's also intelligent. Although she strays from news and politics like me, my mother has read more books than anyone I know. She has a beautiful vocabulary and a strong opinion. I have seen her make men twice her size feel uncomfortable with her wit.

susan and yvonne

And she's not afraid of anything. She'll talk about sex at the dinner table, travel through foreign countries alone, make friends with strangers and dance on restaurant tables.

happy times

When I'm with my mother I don't feel like I'm with my mother. I'm with my best friend. I can be myself. We have fun, we laugh, drink, dance, write together, talk about anything and everything and bask in each others silence.

yvonne and claire

To say she inspires me would be an understatement. She is the most beautiful, sensual, honest woman I know and I can't imagine my life without her presence. I honestly think the world would stop turning.

on the way to market

So cheers, to the sexiest, craziest, most beautiful 59-year-old I know. Life is a journey, and she inspires me to live it properly.


Blogger Sky said...

happy birthday, yvonne! what a wonderful tribute, so filled with love, waiting here for you. you must be so filled with emotion as you read.

your work painting the house and getting it ready for sale shows in the delightful presentation it makes - it all looks so crisp and fresh and inviting. the webpage is very good work! congrats on your success with both projects. it was fun to take a tour of the house - very nice, indeed. i am sure it will be gobbled up quickly. bon voyage as you fly away to france to begin a new and wonderful life.

2:03 AM  
Blogger Yvonne said...

Oh my darling beautiful Gill,

You do so know how to touch my heart. (And yes, Sky, I am filled with emotion. And thank you.) Anais Nin wrote something to the effect that it's easy to love someone who loves you. Gill, you make me sound more courageous than I am. Often I rush blindly into whatever but I truly love my life and the people who surround me. I miss you, my daughter. Soon.

7:44 AM  
Blogger MiMi said...


Your words are beautiful. Your mother is very lucky to have you as a daughter and you are as lucky to have such an amazing mother. Happy Birthday to the woman whom i do not know but which through your words admire.

Happy Birthday!

9:48 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

Wow. You always have such amazing tributes to your loved ones. I wish I was so great with words. I guess I express myself through my baking, and that is why I have a baking have definitely found your calling in journalism.

5:35 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

I am a New York Times bestselling author working on a new book about mother-daughter relationships and thought you might want to contribute. Please visit my page for details about submitting stories for Mom's Little Angel.

Gregory E. Lang
Author of “Daddy’s Little Girl,” “Why a Daughter Needs a Dad,” “Why a Daughter Needs a Mom” and more.

7:24 AM  
Blogger Lacey @ The Road is Life said...

Wow-- she sounds amazing!!! How lucky you are to have such an inspiring a courageous mom!!!

I love, love that poem-- it is exactly what I needed today!!!


9:11 AM  
Blogger Julia said...

Through the years I have been reading your blog, I have been charmed by your mum and dazzled by the glow you obviously have for her. She's someone I wish I knew, and I hope she has a wonderful birthday.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Xteener said...

My sister sent me a link to this wonderful post about your mother because it reminded her of our late mother. Truely, your mother sounds like a beautiful person and you, her daughter alike. What a wonderful tribute.

3:50 PM  
Blogger la femme said...

happy birthday to your mom!

8:54 PM  
Blogger bella rum said...

I've been reading your mother's blog for a couple of years. We're the same age, and I actually found her through your blog when you were in France. I made an attempt to email her once, but the email option didn't work for me. Please tell her I've enjoyed her site very much, and often find her inner struggles to mirror my own. She's an inspiration, and I wish her all that is fulfilling in the coming year.
ps She has a pretty terrific daughter too.

3:09 PM  
Blogger The Late Bloomer said...

Oh, what an inspiration your mother is, and what a fine example you are of the incredible job she has done both as a mother and as a friend. You have the most amazing relationship! And all that you share with us here, your descriptions of her, of the time you spend together -- it is all so precious. As always, a beautiful tribute, Gillian. Again, I am in awe of your words and your grace.

And what luck to be beginning her new life in France, the country she loves so much as well... And that you love too! Belated birthday wishes to your incredible mother.

6:29 AM  
Blogger b said...

This comes a bit late but Happy Birthday to your beautiful and remarkable mother! This post is so touching and so inspires me in huge ways. Your heart felt appreciation and love is strongly apparent in this post. No doubt your mother is largely to thank for the beautiful and open person you are!

10:03 PM  
Blogger Bugsy said...

Hey, Gill
Your Moms is all right..

She keeps the juice working for her. Good for her!

Your narration transmits her spirit that can be felt by the reader to the point that she a mental, as wellas visual stimulant to us of the "old school" days.

10:48 AM  

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