Monique unfolded the midnight blue Basildon Bond letter. The cursive calligraphy, in silver ink, from her mother’s warm, gracious hands. She had been instructed to read the letter to the friends, family and acquaintances who were here for her mother’s funeral. Between each page a beautiful watercolour, each with her mother’s nom deplume, the scorpion.

Monique’s mother seemed preoccupied as her illness progressed, with her name and reputation and the lenses through which other’s viewed her.  The importance given to words and judgment. 

She remembers the special shelf for her mother’s creative space. A small desk in the corner of the kitchen. Compartments, in one, her mother’s three pairs of reading and one pair of sun glasses. Over the shelf a wooden plaque with three letters. P. O. V. (Point of View) Under the shelf the special cabinet which held the water colours sets, brushes and calligraphy pens.  Always a small pair of silver, filigree scissors. These, used to cut all brand names from clothes, shoes, furniture, any purchased item.  As her mother cut the labels her mother’s mantra… I have a name, I need wear no other. 

Her mother had been a woman of style, an artist, a teacher, who travelled widely and valued friends and family. Generous, a giver rather than a taker.  When a friend was in need she had always, had a room, time, even money for her family yet she discovered no reciprocity.

Bringing her mind back to the church and the present task, she read her mother’s letter.

Thankyou all for attending my funeral.

I presumed I would die at some time, from complications of Parkinson’s disease.  Worse than the physical symptoms, though,  the abandonment by close family, assumptions and judgements by many of you have said that you feel I no longer exist as the person you once knew. The person I was evaporated.

Branded as surely as any Auschwitz survivor.

That I survived,

At times hanging by a thread.

Is a wonder.

That my spirit thrived

Is a bloody Miracle !!

Suddenly, behind Monique, a woman shuffled in from the rear door.  

The woman hugged her daughter and turned to the audience.

Though frail, she shouted,

“I was, always will be … the women with the sting in her tail… and what a tale I have. ”

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