If you died tomorrow, what would your legacy be?
(Happy Tuesday, guys!)
I ask because I watched that Lady Di doc last night and it was all about her legacy and how she sorted out all the AIDS and all the landmines and did it all whilst looking flippin’ gorgeous and making everyone she met fall in love with her (except her own husb, obvs).
Whereas my legacy would be teaching many parents my filthy version of The Wheels on the Bus, writing jokes and dicking about on stages, all whilst looking flippin’ sweaty in a wig and making nobody fall in love with me (except my own husb, obvs…at least once upon a time).
I also have no material legacy to leave for my kids. They can look forward to a trunk of cheap, gaudy, statement earrings, a sizeable collection of jeans ranging from a size 12 to…a bit bigger than a size 12…and a highly useful selection of wigs, costumes and comedy props.
Approximately 450 books await their disinterest along with my own unpublished/unfinished manuscripts, plays, poems and stories; my treasure trove of nearly-there-if-I-had-more-time-and-talent.
Of course us mothers are meant to feel that our children are our life’s work and Diana clearly loved hers in a way which has proved lasting and powerful for them; a love which they articulated rather well in the doc, considering their heritage and class; a love which it seems was no different, no more or less measured than any other mother, even mine.
Yesterday I discovered that my mum’s legacy runs deeper than I ever imagined. Turns out she has bequeathed me some auto-immune shizzle, some rheumatoidy shizzle which she never knew she had and which I now know has been lurking inside me, popping up with inexplicable symptoms over the years and which wants to write my future for me; a future where I might be moving around even less than I do now (I can still stagger to the bar).
So the legacy project is now very firmly ON.
To clarify: I am not going to suddenly schlep it up Everest; that expensive nonsense is for privileged tools who’ve forgotten how to have fun. Nor am I going to fling myself around the world in an effort to ‘discover myself’ because I already know me and I already know you can’t smoke on planes.
But I am finally waking up to life, just in time before I hit The Big Sleep.
Ray Bradbury wrote: ‘It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away.’
I don’t think my filthy nursery rhymes are quite what he means. And of course I can see my touch in my kids. Both can tell an excellent amusing story because I have taught them to never embark on sharing a yarn unless they have a clear and interesting path through the narrative and an amusing concluding point. It doesn’t have to be a punchline as such, (I’m not some kind of goddamn comedy TIGERMOTHER) but they know if they stray or veer or peter out sadly, they will be met with ‘that’s enough, come back and try again when you’ve thought about it properly.’
I love my kids. They’re my heart-light. They burn inside me, fuelling everything I do. But I don’t want my only legacy to be: ‘She was a loving mummy and sometimes funny, bless her. Did you ever hear her Wheels on the Bus?’
There is time enough left for ambition and adventure and maybe even love. We don’t need to die to be memorable. And we don’t have to give up on all the good shizzle while we work on it.
As Diana herself said: ‘They say it is better to be poor and happy than rich and miserable, but how about a compromise like moderately rich and just moody?’
She had something, did Lady Di. So do you. So do I.
Let’s get on with it…