We’ve had an incredible summer. The hottest in years and years and years. The grass is brown and the kids feet are bare. We are swimming after dinner and waking up in the morning to another hot day.
Marcus had the six week summer break off with the boys, so we packed up the car and headed north. And when I say we packed up the car, we really, really did pack her up. A tent, a gazebo, two camp stretchers, a double airbed, two tables, a stove, four chairs, a pantry, bedding, three bags. Some Lego and some colouring in books for the inevitable rainy days.
But I think the tipping point may have been the number of kites we took.
We packed four kites.
I mean, you never know which kite you’ll fancy, right?
(Minimalists we are not.)
We spent the first few days in Taranaki with family – staying with my brother and his family at a holiday house, spending some time with my sister and Dad (who I’ll tell y’all about in another post) and enjoying a large Christmas with my Mum’s side of the family. I say large, and I mean it – over 100 of us. Every other year, we gather, and it’s a beautiful thing. I tried to take photos but I actually just wanted to talk, and talking won.
Mum passed away some 25 years ago, and there are very few people in my ordinary life who knew her at all. So I’m always craving conversations with her family. To fill in the gaps in who I am – to colour in the parts of me that belong to who my Mum was.
So Christmas Day saw me having long and winding conversations about spirituality, and life, and ultimately, Mum. I coloured in some parts. I learnt that when Mum knew she was dying, she told her sister that she wanted to make more memories for me to have of us together. And that we went, just mother and daughter, on a road trip. To Te Awamutu first to visit said sister, and then out to Raglan.
And it wasn’t until I was told this story at Christmas, that it came back to me. Washes of having Mum to myself and it feeling really indulgent. Daubs of store-door bells ringing, and looking around ceramic stores and going to a cafe. Flashes of my younger self, not believing at all that Mum was dying and wondering what on earth was going on.
And with the story from Mum’s sister, the penny dropped too on why I have always felt so connected to Raglan, a small seaside village about 4 hours north of where I was raised. I understood why I wanted to go there for our final summer before we left for England.
As we walked home from that day, I wondered how many other memories lie dormant in me like that, just waiting to be woken.
Anywonders, on Boxing Day we left Taranaki and zipped up to Rotorua. Spent the night there with a thermal spa and two boys with two icecreams. I asked them to go pose by the lake for this photo and it’s a fairly accurate depiction of their personalities.
And then we drove some more, and set up camp at a beach at Waiotahe, near Opotiki in the Bay of Plenty. What a spot. Made all the more glorious, by exceptional, exceptional company.
Hours in the sea many times a day, beach fires, lolling in the shade in between. A 784 page novel read. Cocktails, beers, a mexican fiesta of food and dancing on the beach to see in the new year. A hangover worthy of the night before. A delightful camp owner who offered us a cabin whilst a hurricane came through. And then back to the tent again. A seal on the beach to visit. Father and son out kayaking. Endless, endless sandcastle making.
I feel like it is the stuff that memories are made of. Memories of fun, laughter, hot sun, friends, family and happiness.
Memories that I know now might not last forever. But ones that I trust will wend their way through into their bodies and their souls. Become a piece of their own understanding of their happy childhood lives.
You see, memories aren’t always mind bound. While much of what I consciously know of Mum is well gone, on a cellular level, I still absolutely and profoundly know her.
I remember her presence and how she made me feel.
And whilst I might have forgotten all the words and stories to say that prove it, in my body I still know I was infinitely loved.
My boys will know that too.