As I was trimming my beard…

IMG_0790As I was trimming my beard this evening for perhaps the seventy-fifth time since it has occupied my face, it occurred to me that it’s almost been a year since I started growing this thing.  I’m currently forty-eight years old and have shaved almost daily (five days out of seven not including vacations, sick days and other days “off”) for thirty years.  I stopped shaving last Christmas when my partner went to visit her parents for the holidays.  I got lazy for a week, then she saw it and liked it so it stayed.  And now here I am a year later, never in my life intending to have a beard on my face – I have a beard.  I’m certain I never “wanted” a beard because my father always had one.  I never wanted to be seen to be like him I guess and now that i have done enough healing of myself that I can see that I’m not actually like him, looking a little bit like him doesn’t really mean what it used to mean to me.  I think my face looks better with a beard, I really do enjoy it, and Goddamn, why did I waste so much of my life dragging a sharp-as-hell piece of steel across my face and throat?  That sucks, it’s a very bad idea, I don’t think I’ll do it any more. So here I find myself — hirsute as the fashion fades but I don’t really mind – I think I’ll still be cool when beards are again.

September 8th, 1974

Forty years ago today my mother died. I was eight, she was 32 and I’m sure that neither of us wanted things to work out that way. It has taken me a long time to be able to think about her death, it wasn’t and still isn’t fair. It’s as fair as anything else though, people live and people die, I am currently one of the living. I’m writing this on the train from Amsterdam, traveling to Mannheim, Germany with my daughter. The hot ham and cheese baguette was delicious, the coffee too was good. Today I celebrate Denise Howton by living. She is still alive inside me and inside my daughter. And today I start to heal, I can finally say goodbye Mum.

I’m Sorry Mum

I'm Sorry Mum

This is my memory of just after my last interaction with my mother before her death. She was upset, I shot an arrow at my sister in a fit of rage and it grazed her leg. My mother was admitted to the hospital that day and died before I saw her again. 2014 is the 40th anniversary of those events.