It’s strange. Tonight is the rare ‘Blue Moon’ as it’s the 31st here in New Zealand and in this part of the world. The Blue Moon was sung about in a classic song long ago.
The 31st of July is also my mother’s birthday. This is the first year of her birthday without her here with us to celebrate. For some reason it seems much more real to me today, that she’s gone. Because there’s no need to send a card, no one to ring and sing Happy Birthday to, there’s no present wrapped in my room waiting for the moment I go over to visit. In fact, the present I’d bought her was a box of dragonfly-shaped solar lights on sticks and I placed them in the ground at the cemetery just over a month ago. An even odder thought, to think of the solar dragonflies shining brightly under the full blue moon tonight.
Just as I will celebrate what would have been Ma’s 83rd birthday, she will be celebrating with me from heaven. She was always an avid advocate of my writing, and she loved my stories. My very first set of children’s books, Ma took a liking to The Unsightly Wet Nightie, so I gave her a handmade copy. The Unsightly Wet Nightie was dragged out and read aloud to every visitor who crossed their doorstep.
Ma was so proud of my stories. She liked to ask about what I was writing whenever I visited. Then she would sit beaming as I spun my tales. Especially in the last four or five years, Ma’s ability to listen had increased, and we would sit the whole day talking as I told her stories.
I’m sure that now she’s passed, her passion has not diminished and she still watches on, in her own way.
I’m getting so close to the finish line with my debut novel, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta’.
While Ma was alive, I’d been happily plodding along on a part-time path with this book which I started writing in 2005. The night she died, being 25 June, 2015, the manuscript, which had been through my critique group three times, was being read by three beta readers. The very next day I recalled the manuscripts from the beta readers. No longer prepared to loll along on the slow boat to China, I suddenly had a new fire in my tail. Ma had died without seeing my first book in print. I had to make that finish line with this book while my father was still alive to see it!
Before I left town to join the family gathering around my father, I sent the book to a professional editor in the States, for her to proof-read. She’s already finished and is sending it back to me. While I wait on the manuscript, which is coming by post, I am busy looking at the next steps, the marketing and promotion. But first of all I need the right cover designer. l have made contact with someone whose designs I admire and hopefully she’ll be underway working on a phenomenal cover in the next few weeks. It’s all coming together.
While I shed tears for my mother this morning, on her birthday, I also see that beyond my window, the rain has stopped and the sun is shining. And I see that I really am close to publishing this story. It’s not the end for her or for our relationship, it’s just the beginning. As it is for me, with my first book about to be birthed. Another chapter. A new era.
Ma was a nurse in the 1950’s. The photo of her above has the legend written on the back, in her spidery handwriting, ‘Me, twenty, off duty from the London Hospital. 1952’. It gives me a pang to look at her, young and in her prime, with her whole life laid before her, her four children yet to come.
She, of all people, would know that despite the losses we suffer as we go along, life will go on. The sun will come up tomorrow and the moon will shine tonight. A rare Blue Moon, no less. And I’ll be there, raising a toast in salute.
Happy Birthday, my darling mother!
Thanks for reading…
Yvette K. Carol
Raise your sail one foot and you get ten feet of wind. – Chinese Proverb