A creaking tree never falls down...My mother-in-law, who is justabout still my mother-in-law, said this to me last night. We had a conversation on the telephone, her in Ireland, me here. After years of minor struggle, we have reached a place of mutual respect and understanding, and one of the things that we understand is that both of us have lost her son.
I love her, strange to say. I never expected to, but it's true. She once bought a mug out of which to drink when she came to visit and for a long time I hid it at the back of the cupboard when she wasn't here, and looked at it askance, should it ever have the audacity to creep to the fore.
This evening I sought it out. Its silly, flowery pattern comforts me and I sipped my tea hoping that some of her countrywoman wisdom might somehow slip into me.
She told me the story: for years a tree outside her mother and father's cottage would worry and wake them with its noise. Today, the house is long gone, and the tree still stands.
A creaking tree never falls down, she recalls her father saying. Because it bends, I suppose.
I need to bend. I need to stay standing.
Sometimes I count it up, just for fun, the astonishing number and variety of life events of the past decade. Bowed down by my mistakes, I have been close to feeling like one who has failed, recently, and it helps me not to feel like that, reminding myself what this creaking tree has withstood. Some of the events have been chronicled here: it wasn't long after I started the blog that my subject matter went from the mundane to pithy.
Not all the events were bad, of course (and among the horrors there came a strawberry-blonde girl whose presence nothing can gainsay) but it looks like I'll be adding divorce, near bankruptcy and moving house to the list before the decade's up.
I write on a Saturday night. Almost always I am alone on a Saturday night. It's not alright, alright. It's the loneliest night of the week, it has been for some time. I'm too tired to work. I'm too worried, too sad, too alone. I have no money, none, and the Bim has finally gone. The Bim is not alone this Saturday night, he is with Anna-mouse and another.
But tomorrow or the next day, when Anna-mouse returns, I will have the driving force of my life by me again, and remarkably I am not ill. I creak, and I am always tired, but I am not ill. And I have a talent to put words together which has led me to a new career - I have started something which I hope, if life's burdens don't become too great, to finish.
Of the decade's ten years, there are only ten months left. Head down against the mutterings on the wind, I'm going to creak and bend, and try really, really hard to stay standing.