I have written much on my blog about my young dyslexic son and my battle to secure him an education he can access. I haven’t written much, if anything, about my other much loved and cherished children. Today, my eldest – my first born, my darling girl – is getting married. She came into this world kicking and screaming 23 years, 9 months , 2 weeks and 6 days ago – and I fell in love with her the minute I held her for that very first time – a love that has strengthened and increased with each passing year.
My beautiful girl.
Now a young woman and about to marry her love and embark on a new life as a wife – and one day in the (hopefully not too distant) future, a mother.
Many, many years ago, in another life and another century, I lived in the beautiful Cotswold town of Stroud, Gloucestershire and my elder brother lived in a rented cottage in nearby Slad. The very cottage which was owned by the famous author, Laurie Lee, and the very cottage where Cider with Rosie was written (and, indeed, where most of his books were written). It is to Laurie Lee that I turn to now, and his words to tell you about my precious first born by way of his short essay (much abridged by myself) on his darling girl, his First Born, which was first given to me when my girl was merely days old.
She was born in the autumn and was a late fall in my life, and lay purple and dented like a little bruised plum, as though she’d been lightly trodden in the grass and forgotten. Then the nurse lifted her up and she came suddenly alive, her bent legs kicking crabwise, and her first living gesture was a thin wringing of the hands accompanied by a far- out Hebridean lament.
This moment of meeting seemed to be a birth time for both of us; her first and my second life. Nothing, I knew, would be the same again, and I think I was reasonably shaken. I peered intently at her, looking for familiar signs, but she was convulsed as an Aztec idol. Was this really my daughter, this purple concentration of anguish, this blind and protesting dwarf.
Then they handed her to me, stiff and howling, and I held her for the first time and kissed her, and she went still and quiet as though by instinctive guile, and I was instantly enslaved by her flattery of my powers.
Only a few brief weeks have passed since that day, but already I’ve felt all the obvious astonishments. New-born, of course, she looked already a centenarian, tottering on the brink of an old crone’s grave, exhausted, shrunken, bald as Voltaire, mopping, mowing, and twisting wrinkled claws in speechless spasms of querulous doom. But with each day of survival she has grown younger and fatter, her face filling, drawing on life, every breath of real air healing the birth-death stain she had worn so witheringly at the beginning.
She is of course just an ordinary miracle, but is also the particular late wonder of my life. So each night I take her to bed like a book and lie close and study her. Her dark blue eyes stare straight into mine, but off-centre, not seeing me.
© Laurie Lee, 1963
My darling girl. My love. So so proud of you and all you have achieved. I have loved every minute and every second of being your mum. I have watched, awe-inspired, as you grew from a child, to a teenager, to a young woman. Beautiful in heart, mind, personality and looks. I am so very much looking forward to this next part of your life as a couple with your love, and all the joy you will have together – first as a couple, and eventually as a family.
Please join with me in wishing my darling girl and her lovely new husband all the very best in their new life together as husband and wife, Mr and Mrs D.
The images below are from Harrison Fisher (1877-1934), an American artist who had the gift for drawing beautiful Edwardian and art-deco scenes. There is a final, 6th, postcard in this series, but not wanting to jinx our young couple’s future, I’ll leave it to your imagination what the final card depicts.
The first evening in their own home
All my love to you both, A & A – the new Mr and Mrs D – now and forever
© Essex Voices Past 2014.