A rock with 3 lines

I’ve got a collection of rocks and stones on my desk.

My favourite is this rock with 3 lines running through it.  It’s about the size of a clenched fist. Or my clenched fist. Which is about 9cm/3inches across.  I can’t remember exactly where it comes from. Though I’m certain it doesn’t come from Bradford.  Not originally. The collection of rocks and pebbles on my desk is made up of objects I’ve collected, along with pieces my Mum and my surrogate Granny Liz picked up.  I got the rock bug from them. When these two great women died I ended up getting their rock collections too. And now they’re all kind of muddled up.  

Mum and Liz met at a Geology O’level class at Bradford Collage in the early 1980’s.  My Mum was in her 50’s then and Liz was in her early 70’s, I think. Details are not my strong point.  Anyway, when they met they just clicked. Liz became part of our family. I grew to love her so much that in the end I adopted her. At the time (I was 11 or 12) I don’t think she thought I was being serious.  I was. I loved having 3 grannies.  I loved them all. They all gave me ideas and experiences that have shaped me.  From Liz I learnt, for certain, that you don’t need to share genes to be family.  That in itself is a massive gift.  Liz died 15 years or so ago.  I still think of her most days.  How she never let me get away with sloppy thinking.  How she challenged me to see other people’s points of view. How she made the best home made lemonade and shortbread in the world. Still true. Still miss those perfect Sunday treats. I think of her friendship with my Mum. How they recognised they were kindred spirit. How they supported each other to follow their passions. To live and learn and always be curious. To not just fade away politely.  Liz used to sing in a choral choir. She could have sung alto but chose to sing bass. She did this specifically so she could stand with lots of men and flirt with them between songs.  She never married. She regretted that all her life.  Her great love was a merchant seaman who died during the 2nd world war.  I love that, despite that real life-long sadness, she never gave up her love of flirting. I love how Mum and Liz were both silly and serious. How their love of nature, land, people and place sat at the heart of all they did. How that made me look, then think about what I was seeing.  You can not know where you come from until you have learnt that skill. They gave that to me. 

I think about all of that when I stop work at my desk, have a sip of tea and glance down at this rock.  It reminds me of what I’ve lost, what I’ve got, where I’m from and where I’m going. Our 3 lines.  Crossing like that. It’s rare to find that criss crossing of crystal through granite or whatever the hell that grey stuff is. I think. I’m sure I remember my Mum saying that. To be honest a ton of the stuff she and Liz tried to teach me about rocks went in one ear and out the other. None of the names stuck.  But all the love they had stayed.  That imperfect 3 line intersection. Disjointed but determinedly there.  Random but certain. A chance in a million perhaps, but all the same, there it is.  It happened. Those great women happened to me, growing up here, in Bradford. My home. These tiny threads we all weave to make a whole. To link the personal to the shared and communal. What we do and how we do it matters. I learnt that from them, here, in this city. I’m of them and of here. Sometimes a fist sized rock, from who knows where, that you keep on your desk is what reminds you that you are home.

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Submitted by
Emma Adams, from Crossflatts

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