Life has taught me this: that by knowing the mother, you know the son, and vice versa. Again and again, I see the echoes of mothers in their sons, some of pain and others of joy.

Today, I am writing about my friend Irakli’s mother. Yesterday, on an old TV programme on the BBC, I saw the Russian Orthodox Church tucked away in a quiet road in Knightsbridge, London. I had often entered this dark, hushed cavern with Irakli on our walks.

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And when you know the son deeply, you begin to know the mother, too.

Irakli’s mother is a strong woman with very strong opinions, and we did not have a good start. She didn’t like me to start with, but as with all good women, things move on to a sweet footing when we see the true selves.

Irakli’s mother didn’t like me, because I told him to stop eating the heart medication that his mother gave him (her tablets!!!). I told him, “That’s bloody dangerous!”

“Tell that doctoress, you are my son. I birthed you, we have the same chemistry, so what works for me will work for you, too. And you’re Georgian, not her feeble Englishman.”

When I visited Tbilisi, she invited me to stay in her family home. I declined politely.

She offered to take me shopping. Again, I declined politely.

Irakli made excuses for me. “Jacqueline doesn’t like shopping.”

She snorted. “That type of woman doesn’t exist.”

Anyway, when we finally met, my heart leapt up to embrace hers.

Her home mirrored her character – filled with books and grandchildren’s mementoes. The grandchildren clattered in and out nosily, and they teased her, kissed her.

We had to speak through interpreters (Irakli’s family) but it was as if we have known each other forever. She held my hand tightly, and through her daughter Marina she told me, “I know you love my son and my granddaughter. And for me, that is enough.”

I am filled with such warmth whenever I think about Deda Mañana.

Thus on my back is engraved a tattoo written by this lovely woman’s son’s hand, Shen Khar Venakhi, a tribute to mothers in Georgian ❤

Shen Khar Venakhi by the Rustavi Choir:

Main photo: a typical old Georgian house near the Dry Bridge in Tbilisi, by Badri Vadachkoria. For more lovely photos of Georgia go to Открой Грузию.