My mother’s voice (written Wednesday 06/07/2011)

I was re-reading some of my old email conversations with Tessa, wanting to feel really connected again, wanting to weep again. And weep I did. Here are some extracts from a few exchanges that capture something of her voice, our relationship, her relationship with her mother (and to her mother’s death), and other important aspects of our lives.

Extract from Tessa’s reading at her mother’s memorial:

“What I find is that I still have conversations with my mother – her voice is strong inside me, and that’s a comfortable presence. A different voice, in many ways expressive of hers as a different generation. In others, the voice of a woman I not only loved, but enjoyed, admired, and valued.

I only ever had one mother, but we did have her for a long time! We were fortunate to have so many years – time to grow up, and on, and beyond buds and flowers and fruit into the next and the next generation. And time to grow through the pains and pleasures of distances and proximity and intimacy.”

From: Tessa Cousins
Sent: 09 September 2009 21:41
To: Laurel Oettle

You are becoming a gardener! The pleasures and trials and satisfactions…. Farming is like that exactly, on a larger scale!

I had such a good week at AWARD – for almost the first time in these past many years it wasn’t working toooooo hard, as Ive handed the monthly management on to Derick while I search for a new Director and get that in place. Very nice – how I want to work – enjoying it. Life, even management, doesnt HAVE to be madly stressed, I believe.

I am half way through knitting Tristan’s jersey already – Im afraid it will be a bit big – everyone says ‘well he can grow into it” – and I suppose that’s true. Im enjoying the making. Clever boy talking – he is bounding ahead now. I can just imagine him rolling apple the “ppll” around! Is enough like Bazzll ! Sweetheart child.

Love love

From: Tessa Cousins
Date: Tue, 16 Feb 2010 20:52:51 +0200
To: Donna (Regarding Rhys’ birth)

Ok, so he weighted a good 4 kgs (or almost, or just over), a big boy anyway. He is still very newborn raw, with that amazing way (over the 3 hours I spent with them later morning through midday) of pinking up, skin smoothening, head easing back into roundness – you know how you can just watch them and drink them in and as they rosy up you don’t know how much its them or your own falling in love as you see and feel this new being. Its like watching a flower unfold. He has turned from a goblin baby (that raw aged-brandnew look) to a pixie baby – with a round face down to a strong and pointed little chin and he has very pointy ears, with little hairs on the end! He is not much like Tristan – he does have the Paula-ears (half my grandchildren have this feature! Which only Jay of my own children has, and I dont), at this stage a big nose without the Oettle flaring nostrils which Tristan always had a just a hint of – very finely drawn mouth. He does have a name – Rhys (rhymes with Greece).

So – it was a quick birth, and though the late ambulance ride disturbed Laur and put her off stride – she was already deep into transition and starting to want to push then), and then once the waters broke and they saw muconium in it the midwife rushed her a bit, she was in only 4 hours of real labour, and the first hour of that was pretty easy going. She has an amazing way of riding the waves using voice and her face a bit and tight tight squeezing of hands hands while keeping the entire rest of her body relaxed, that feels very effective. She is now very tired (even a ‘short “one is hard work – its not called labour for nothing, right?), says she is relieved she will not do it again, and is in easy relaxed fashion drinking up her new boy. He is feeding strongly, he has a firm grip – a sturdy boy this. Laurel is really ok – its a lekker household.
From: Tessa Cousins
Sent: 09 March 2010 20:34
To: Laurel Oettlé

Hello love
The weather has cooled off a little, so tonights swim off Llnadudno beach was interesting, as there were choppy waves and an off-shore wind, making it a bit wilder out there and getting back harder work than usual! From google earth we think we swam a good mile. Its SUCH FUN – a little bit of anxiety about being in the wild element, really to feel that rush of adrenaline at a dark shape rushing up (its always kelp!). I was thinking tonight that Dirk and I seem to want a bit of adrenaline in our play! Anyway, we will soon find the swim to Annie’s island a cinch if we keep going like this – a mile or more every evening in the sea!

We saw James briefly this evening – he LOVES his new bike – and he and
Tristan would scoot along. Egging each other on! I found a darling little
“tring tring” bike bell for him. Tiago birthday next, 12 March. Winter is on the 11th (Dirks granddaughter). All getting big.

I feel a big sense of relief hearing you had a good night – it helps SO much. And its great Rhys is easy now – they aren’t always, as you know (from others’ reports). I think you will find you have a lot of fun with your two boys when sweet and when active. I wonder if Rhys will be a bigger boy than Tristan?

Loving you tons
Your ma-ma

From: Tessa Cousins
Sent: 12 May 2010 08:58

Thank you so much for the book darling – Cate came by, pretty briefly, and brought the book (and Dirk his treat!). We may go swimming together today.
She brings a breath of you with her. I breathe deeply!

From: Tessa Cousins
Sent: 27 September 2010 11:29
To: Laurel Oettlé

Somehow, you will manage between you – the thing to aim for is not managing, but managing it while also keeping life and relationships feeling good. My dear I’m so glad this summer has been what it has, you deserved this.

Your ma-ma

On 06/12/10 4:37 PM, “Oettle, Laurel”

Hi ma,
You ask how I manage? Because my lazy teenage years are so far behind me they are a very distant memory, and I have the best role model in the world: YOU. I’ve always been amazed by your energy and how much you achieve. I try to make the most of every minute of every day now. Tristan is an avid baker and simply loves helping me, so it’s a good way to spend time with him.

I was thinking last night about ‘Momentum’ [blog note: our extended family magazine, which my granmother used to bring together and edit every year, and my generation resurrected after my grandfather died, but without the same regularity, and with a new name – it used to be ‘Memento’] which no one has taken up since Tabs & I did the last one. I may run with it again next year, and I was toying with themes. My mind revolves around children at the moment, but with the last one focusing on the new generation I wanted something quite different that can engage non-parents too, but also snap-shot where people in our family are up to in their lives. I was thinking maybe something around identity or relationships, which would both be open to different interpretation – identity in terms of roles, jobs, nationality: how we see ourselves; or relationships in terms of partners or parents or children or… ? Your thoughts?

Love you loads!

Sent: 07 December 2010 11:04
To: Oettle, Laurel
Subject: From your ma

My dearest – what a lovely message! And it makes me think of my own mother, of course, who exhibited such energy, enterprise and creativity that I never felt I could match – and then at last came to realise that I have my way of expressing my energy, enterprise and creativity! Its now 2 years since Gran died – so feeling very aware of her these few days. Though I find she lives in me very strongly, and that does not fade, it maybe even grows.

Doing activities with your children is I think the best way to be multi-tasking and teaching and enjoying their company – so you and Tristan baking is a very nice image.

I think your idea bout the Momentum is a fine one – I like its inclusivity. I think IDENTITY is the idea I like best- as you say its wider open to interpretation, but gives a focus. Snapshot is right, and make it an immediate. Maybe do a reflection on “what we learned about producing the last one” – e.g. photographs are nice but there can be too many, which makes emailing a version cumbersome. Guidelines of some sort on maximum length?

Your ma

From: Tessa Cousins
Sent: 14 January 2011 18:02
To: Laurel Oettle
Subject: Re: 2011 has begun
Dearest Laurel
Still finding my feet in 2011! Its tough and instructive to see how the processes of marginalisation of the “not-normal” happen. No ill-intentions, the opposite – but people are caught up in their own lives and coping, and so no-one does make the extra effort it takes to be really inclusive, because its not easy to do so. So I said I’d take James every day for some hours so Tabs could get up to speed with her business, and have some recovery time and some relief form the relentlessness of the demands of James, which escalate when she is not in good shape. Such a vicious cycle. It can be so hard for her, Laurel. I feel so for Tabby, and wish I could wave my magic wand, but then I do the bits I can and maybe beyond what I can really manage. Because of course I must.

I am climbing at my best EVER at the moment, which is fantastic. Your diet really worked for me; a few kgs off makes a difference, along with my slow development of skill and technique.

So my love, a mixed bag. I am very well – the ONLY blip in my own complete contentment is that I wish so that things get easier for Tabs. They do, but its not a linear process. James is steadily moving forward – his talking is coming on now – he is where one expects and 18 month old to be maybe, but the big thing is that it is coming, which is GREAT. He is very lovely, even if he is demanding and can be very difficult – I love him dearly and am hopeful for his development still.

Loads of love to you, and yours
Your ma-ma


2 thoughts on “My mother’s voice (written Wednesday 06/07/2011)

  1. Grieving is such a tumultous process. For days i’ve just got on with the day’s call but today, quite suddenly, I felt blood draining from my head to my legs and once again the full force of not being able to phone Tessa, to talk to her, to hear her “mm” “mm” listening and careful caring words of comfort renders me a weeping mess. Oh Laurel, i miss your mother and my friend horribly, just horribly. I see why people talk about deaths as wounds in the heart.

    1. It hit me particularly hard this morning too, after a few days of relative emotional calm – I was listening to my ipod walking to work, and ‘Spring Wind’ came on – I wept til I could hardly see the pavement, stumbling along thinking what a fool I was to wear makeup (for the first time today, as I am running a training). Holding you tight from afar x

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