There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold
And she’s buying the stairway to heaven
Fifty-five years ago, this kid was born to dream. She had eyes as bright as the questions in her head and as blue as her occasional mood. She had this amazing smile. It was sometimes slow to appear, but when it did the edges of her mouth made tiny creases at the corners of her eyes — even when she was young enough to be wrinkle-free.
This kid became a girl, and the girl holed up in rabbit warrens of bedding and torchlight around her parent’s home and got lost in books. Sometimes she didn’t hear the real world. She was Alice in her own version of wonderland, Heidi in the hills, Jo March wondering about Laurie. This girl lost time but evolved. She wrote in journals, drew pictures and played with siblings, both nicely and nastily. Life was simple. Everything grew, elongated, but her eyes stayed bright, blue, enquiring.
And even if she smiled with hesitation or embarrassment, the tiny creases would still appear to map her journey, to mark her dreams. She was still pretty sure that all that glitters is gold.
This girl’s hair grew down her back, like a messy brown salute to the 70s. Her locks grew longer, in defiance of something (she mightn’t have been sure of what) and the girl grew into a teenager. If her pupils dilated with the excitement of the times, then it might reflect an occasional blackness of mood, but hey? Twas the 70s, she was a bit of a rebel and as the skirts grew shorter, so did the teenager’s ability to accept the teachings of the old school.
She was old soul. It had been decided at birth, and if the eyes are the window to that soul, then it was easy to tell.
One night when she was about 17, she put on some thick makeup and eyeshadow in the bathroom mirror and her 7-year old sister watched in awe. The technique. The attention to grooming detail. The gorgeous transformation. This bratty girl-boy had never seen anything as beautiful as the teenager with the amazing eyes, the Cher-like hair, the curvaceous figure, but it was all about her.
‘When will I be able to go out too?’ the kid asked.
The young woman stopped her application, looked back at the kid in the mirror, smiling. The side of her eyes creased, mapping, but her makeup stayed intact. ‘One day, Puddin’, and you’ll have a great time.’
‘It’s not fair. I want to go out too.’
Instead of telling the brat to get the hell out of the bathroom rather than sitting on a stool, watching, complaining, the older sister said ‘try not to be so impatient all the time. It’ll happen.’
It did, and I’m still as impatient as I ever was, but you were always the teacher.
If the kid with the bluest eyes was born to dream, she grew into a woman who conformed at times. Her hair got shorter, then longer, even permed. Lighter, then blonder but never a slave to chemotherapy. Her teeth grew as randomly as the advice she gave and the love she would always give, and her smile continued to grin hope. She breathed life into boys, worked when she had to, cared without expecting anything in return or strings attached.
Two things remained the same Lea, throughout my memories: when you looked at someone with those kid-eyes that were born to dream, it was as though they were the most important person in the room and their issues were your issues. And even though the bitter challenges of life had tried to prove otherwise, you always seemed sure all that glitters is gold because if it’s doesn’t, it’s fake. You had a way of picking the fakes from the gems.
Writing a birthday wish for someone who has moved on to That Better Place is a bit redundant. You know exactly what I want to say, you can probably see me doing it, you might even be helping shift the fingers over the right keys or scoffing at the choice of words.
You’d also laugh at the fact that I ‘don’t do cards’, yet here I am composing a birthday post.
Living our ‘best life’ is really hard without you, so we don’t do it. We try to live well, sometimes it’s a hollow bitch, sometimes it’s okay, but we don’t really do it without you. We try to stay awake, heed the signs and look for meanings. Mostly, we think about you every day, and the photos we take of family are no longer that complete so someone always frowns in them. Or makes a face.
Rest easily, sister. Miss you always and happy birthday.