When Marcie asked if I would like to write a guest post for Vision & Verb, I thought it would be an easy piece to write: life on the farm over the last year, long walks with dogs as the coffee grows up around us, the rains and waiting for the rains; the continual cycle of weather that we are so reliant on, eyes fixed permanently on the skies and the red red earth the covers everything. I could write about the shidas (problems) that we’ve had with the local villages about various things, as well as the day-to-day situations like the lifts I regularly give to the wazee (the ‘elders’ of the local community) and the humour to be found in our stumbling conversations about life and farming. I could write about the documentary photography work and the interesting places I’ve been to and, above all, how much I love what I’m doing. All in all, it’s been a year of ups and downs, but we’re still here.
But there is more to it than that. It has also been a year of family, of my father slowly dying and knowing that he will probably die this year. Because of this, I have been making frequent trips across to the UK, to stay in our old family house where there are so many memories, not all easy to live with, but ultimately it is now lit by the presence of my two small nephews. Their daily presence in their Grandfather’s life - they run downstairs to ‘the granddad flat’ in the bottom of the house every morning to climb on his bed and wake him up - has, I have no doubt, filled these last years of his life with such utter joy. They will miss him hugely when he is gone, their first experience of losing someone they love and they are still so young.
This is also the year that I am now the same age as my mother was when she died, when my sister and I were both 16. How can that be? She was old and I am still young. She seemed so old, but for a person to die in their mid-40s…how can that be and how can I now be that age? This has been a long time coming, although I hadn’t really given it much thought before now. I guess it has kind of crept up on me and suddenly here it is, ‘here I am, this is the year’. It’s not going to floor me, or send me into complete turmoil I don’t think. It’s more like a small stone that sits inside, one that I can feel and one that won’t go away. I think of it as a conversation with her, “Mum, can you see that I’m ok, can you see that things really did turn out ok for me? That, when we said goodbye - or rather we didn’t say goodbye because I was 16 and desperate not to lose you and I was so damned angry at you for dying on me and I couldn’t talk to you anymore - well, there was so much I never said. But because of you, your presence in my life when you were alive as much as when you were not, you have helped me to have the most incredible life, all of it. And now I am the person I want to be, with the person I want to be with and well, I know you know all this. I just wish I could share it more tangibly with you”.
This is how I feel, this is my story and all will unfold as it is meant to.
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Eliza Deacon is visiting us today from Tanzania. As those of you may recall - she has been a long-time collaborator here at Vision and Verb. We've missed you Eliza! Thank-you for joining us and sharing today.