The Second Fellowship Book.
Letters for my Baby Girl. “Yes my darling girl. That is you.”
Our last and first book Letters for my little Sister was written by a group of women from The Fellowship who created an extraordinarily honest and powerful anthology of discussions on The Menopause. It is a very individual and ground breaking piece. A very well received book. A triumph. And to date it has made enough money for us to write and later print the next Fellowship Book.
Letters for my Baby Girl. I live far away from my daughter. She is in Melbourne, Australia and I am in Illinois, USA. Often I write emails and messages and texts or talk on my phone to my daughter, but I seldom send real letters. The weight of a letter has increased with all this internet comunication. A letter is forever now, real writing on real paper. A letter needs to say something True and Worthy. It can be folded and stored in a drawer and read many times. Or it can be collected into a book. Our book.
What if you were to write a letter to be read after you were gone. For some reason this holds even more value. A letter that passes on what you learned from your own grandmother and father and mother and aunt and best friend’s mum. A letter that decanted a little of that wisdom into 1600 words. A letter that can be passed down from woman to girl and woman to girl.
What would you say?
You could write this for your little daughter asleep in the next room or your neice who you see four times a year, or your granddaughter who lives far, far away, or your neighbour’s daughter who is right next door. Or your teenager who is out with friends you do not trust. Or a beautiful stranger standing on the street in a pink tutu tapping into her I Phone. Or my own baby girl who is living in a strange city on another continent with no Mum down the road to bounce ideas off over a cup of tea.
What would you write? What is important for her to know?
My mother’s last words to me were ” Don’t cut your hair – it is your crowning glory”. ( I visited my hairdresser yesterday and confessed to her that I had ‘had a go’ at my hair with the sewing scissors and could she Patch me up. She sighed and said, “Well I guess sewing scissors are better than fingernail scissors” and proceeded to carefully get my hair back in order. We have a kind of Debbie Harry meets Marilyn Monroe look now. Perfect (not!) for the Mother of the Groom. But I digress.
My mother’s last words, which were not in a letter, have left me with a conundrum, I return to them again and again looking for some kind of map, some kind of code. Some kind of mother’s wisdom. But I think, in actual fact, she just liked my hair.
Then she said “You and your brother, just take that box of chocolates home with you. I am tired of watching you eat them – lying all over my bed.” She was in the hospice. These were her last hours. Like good children we went home.
There were no clues. But what if she had left a letter? What would she have said? In the end what is really important? Freezing the butter before you make the pastry? Being kind? Allowing women to walk through the door first? Not listening to the waffling of drunk boys? No swimming after dark. Look both ways before you cross the road or your boss. Onions should be sweated not fried.
Once she said to me” children are like horses but be careful they should not be broken.”
She told me that her father (my Pa) used to often jingle a few coins in his pocket because he went through the depression and every penny counted for him. That this was a sensible thing but a curse all at the same time.
She told me to always sift the flour from a height, to brush my hair one hundred times at night,( in opposing directions), to never turn your back on a rooster, to fill the emptied tea pot with water and pour the tea leaves in under the hydrangeas, not to trust people whose eyes are too close together or men who wore beards. She told me stories of the old grandmothers scrubbing their doorsteps, and how she hated hairspray.
Would you like to join me in writing a letter to my baby girl? We could write some of these things down. We could all contribute a letter. There are no real rules except you have about 1600 words. The letter will start as Dear someone or something like that, and signed with the name you choose, your age and the city or country you are writing from. As you write let us feel where you are writing from, give us a context. The weather, the scents, where you are writing.
You know how I hate rules so that will do. The letter can be written as a poem, or a list or a song. Up to you. You might write a favourite recipe. Or a favourite quote. Or what you think really helps a girl to navigate life. To laugh at oneself. To give yourself a break. To strive.
It may be 100 words or 1600. Maybe a little more.
Maybe tips to keep a marriage healthy or how to build a tree-house. Or how your life was yesterday. Or how to make a really god cup of tea. Or how your great great grandmother arrived in a coach and four or on a boat full of immigrants. Or how they survived an earthquake or a flood. How to grow a garden – childbirth from a fathers point of view. Or not to go to bed on an argument. Dealing with a dangerous relative, or starting a fire with sticks. How to get a child to sleep in a big boys bed. Potty training. Breast feeding tips.
The wonderful thing about this book is that the men can write for it too. Men and women alike, mothers and fathers, uncles and aunties, grandmothers and grandfathers. How it feels to be father. How to handle a drunk boy. How to stack wood. Reading to your children. How you would like to be treated. The hazards of thick socks with holes.
What will you write to our baby girl?
I have made a new page for you to register. It is called Register. Just note your interest. Write nothing else. Then all our contributions are fresh, personal and un-influenced. When I am back from New Zealand I will email you the instructions on how to deliver your story to me.. you will have time.. so hurry or don’t hurry whichever you prefer.
You have 1600 words. What will you write in your Letter for my Baby Girl? No! Don’t tell me. WRITE IT IN A LETTER.
Register in the page above called Register.
Your friend on the farm and in the pages,