Growing up, my mother was to me like a movie star: the epitome of mysterious glamour.
She'd left home when I was seven or eight - we waved her off as she (literally) sailed away into the sunset. I don't remember that moment (I only remember scraps and fragments of my younger years) but apparently I cried for days. Which child wouldn't?
In her absence, my brain promoted her to godlike glorious levels of wonder. She was my idol. My greatest love. I couldn't believe my luck when she came back for visits, made a fuss - like she worshipped ME. How kind and wonderful and amazing she was.
My stepmum picked up the reins for the standard mothering stuff. Roof over head, food on table, clean sheets, clean clothes. Spots, bras, periods, make-up, exams. Squabbles. Hormones. Boys. She was brilliant. Stoic. Heroic.
Yet all the while, a shimmering image of my magnificent mother was projected in my mind's eye. She beamed out, radiant, sparkling gloriously on her pedestal of gold.
Crazy clothes, crazy make-up, crazy jewellery, fag in mouth, drink in hand, laughing uproariously, a shock of white blonde hair.
I longed to be like her. A rebel, an artist, free-thinking, chaotic, always centre stage. She commanded attention: we were all drawn to her, like moths, as she shined out, enveloping us with her light.
As she wooshed in and out of my life she brought colour, and vibrancy, and adventure in her wake.
She laughed, in cut off shorts, white boots, red glasses, as I clambered up the rubble pile in the boatyard, and looked over my watery kingdom.
She bought me a Gameboy, which I played continuously the summer I spent with her in Vienna, sweltering hot in 40 degree heat, picking cockroaches off my leg at night. "Ich liebe dich", "Ich liebe dich auch".
She was there for me when I cut off all my hair and ran away to sea. She plied me with love, and booze, and mashed potato, and much-needed space to just be. Louis Jordan crackling on her rickety radio, the boat lulling us as it listed side to side.
My mother taught me many things.
She taught me that life can be lived beyond grey shades of normal.
She taught about possibilities, how not to follow recipes, how to draw negative space.
She taught me that if you apply enough booze, you can see right into someone's heart.
And that we are all worthy of love.
She taught me this, and so much more.
Empathy, creativity, hilarity.
But mostly, mostly, my mother taught me how to forgive.
This post first appeared on Lotte Lane's blog.