At the Pearly Gates

I slept late. Last night I imagined Mother at the Pearly Gates and I hoped she had got in. You might think that would be a given, but Mother used to be capable of driving my father to distraction dithering about whether to call someone.
“They might be eating.” ” Do you think they watch Z Cars?” ” Is it too late?” “I don’t want to disturb them.”
“Just call,” my father would say,” they don’t have to answer.”
And I am talking about the days before answer phones.
So I can imagine Mother, approximate time of death half past six in the morning, wondering if Peter was up and not wanting to disturb his sleep in case he was having a lie-in. Then thinking he might be up but having his breakfast; reading the day’s paper; sitting on the loo; having a shower; getting dressed; hurrying to an important meeting with The Almighty. Everything and anything that would make her hesitate about ringing the bell, knocking on the door, or however it is organised at heaven’s gates.I do hope that Dad was there, just the other side of the railings with a cup of tea how she liked it, a bowl of porridge ( gluten free until he establishes whether her coeliac disease still counts) and hopefully someone had nudged him into thinking about a decent bunch of flowers.
That’s what I hope. I’m sure she’s in by now, and I trust she is dementia free, osteoporosis free and has a mouthful of good teeth so she can tuck into a salad with plenty of watercress. If she doesn’t have to observe a gluten free diet, I hope she has had a sinful pudding – maybe a different adjective – of ice cream with Bailey’s, and is already planning how she would like to develop parts of whatever garden there is available. I hope there’s a good big kitchen table in a good big kitchen; a place where people gather for chat and stories. Mother did like a good ceilidh in the kitchen. At Cousin’s, she adored being surrounded by Saturday night visitors, listening to them talking, the kettle constantly boiling for more tea. “Darling,” she said to me once as she went to bed after one such night, “this is meat and drink to me.” She became more herself when we were in Ireland. She relaxed, rejoiced in hearing and using words and phrases that made her a stranger in England. She started calling me English, although my sister and I were brought up to be very aware of our half Irishness and to be proud of it. Ireland was always held up as superior, the Irish more generous, more everything. Fortunately, my father fitted into Mother’s family as though he had always known them. The pictures of him with my Uncle Tommy show two kindred spirits, laughing at the same jokes, smoking. So maybe Tommy is there too, still smoking, though Dad gave it up, and Auntie Ruth, his wife, generous, warm, welcoming all her husband’s family into her home; Aunt Margaret, rather more serious, questioning Mother’s choices, but hopefully lighter in spirit than she was in life. Even Uncle Isaac, though preferably minus whisky bottle, brought back into the fold after death. There will if course be the dogs, her pet goat, and the kitten so cruelly treated by her father. I’m sure Cat will soon realise she is there and claim her too.
In the days to come she may meet other near and dear relations. If heaven really exists, she will be reunited with her own mother. That will be an emotionally charged time. Her mother died when Mother was seven, and her loss affected Mother every day of her life. She will be happy to see her mother-in-law, surprised to see her father-in-law, and downright astonished if St Peter has let her father through the gates.
I hope she’s happy. I hope she knows how proud I am of her, and that she approves of what we are putting in place to celebrate her life on 15th May.

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25 thoughts on “At the Pearly Gates

  1. Isobel I just love you! I am so sorry I never met your Mom and even more sorry I never got to sit in the kitchen and enjoy an exchange between the two of you. I would have felt so privileged and downright giddy to have shared the laughter and love that you write about so beautifully here and with the richest sense of humor. I know she is happy and I think she might have given Peter a thing or two to think about. I am going to choose to believe your Dad showed up with a lovely bunch of flowers!

    • Oh you are sweet. I am trying to remember my dad buying my mother flowers and failing. Maybe he has learned in twenty-two years afterlife. So long as they are not from a garage.

  2. Beautiful. And maybe my Grandmother is there, in that kitchen, filling it with steam from the pressure cooker as she does the veg and gravy to go with the meat. And maybe my other Grandmother is there, drinking gin, even though they rarely shared a kitchen. With my Grandfathers watching the horse races…thanks for the lovely images.

  3. I think when I make it to the pearly gates, I’m going to look your mum up and have a dish of that ice cream with Bailey’s. And a cup of coffee with Baileys. Whenever my hubby came home with flowers (after a fight where he was obviously in the wrong) the kids would tease that he stopped off at the cemetery to pick up a bouquet. I can tell that you will have a splendid time when all gather after the funeral, telling and listening to great stories. Did you ever see the movie Waking Ned Divine? I think you may like it – it is about an Irish village and although death is a part of the plot, the movie is about friendship and love. Very funny.

  4. Lovely post…..I’m sure your vision of her arrival is spot on. I love thinking about those who have gone before finding peace and love and maybe enjoying some of the things they had to begrudgingly give up in life for some reason while they adjust to new “surroundings”. I’m sure she’s settling in nicely and keeping an eye on you and I’m also sure she’s glad you have MasterB to keep you company. So do I……….

    Hugs, Pam

  5. What a touching and beautiful post and tribute to your loving mother. Will be thinking of you on the 15th as you celebrate her life. I am sorry for your loss.

  6. I haven’t been reading blogs much lately, so I missed that your mother had passed, Isobel. I’m terribly sorry for your loss, and hope that your mother has found peace.

  7. Beautifully written Isobel. I was wishing I had been a Saturday night visitor at your house! Lots of fun. I hope the 15th will be a true celebration of the live of a much-loved and exceptional mother. 🙂

    • Still have the chance. That is Cousin’s kitchen I am describing. When I took Mother over as an early 80th she hardly slept. Much too busy socialising into the small hours with those on holiday, then getting up to breakfast with those at work, I was exhausted!!!

  8. Oh, Isobel, I love your view of your mother passing through those Pearly Gates and how she will enjoy all the things she loved. Beautiful post…my heart and prayers remain with you.
    June

  9. I am sure she is being scorted to heaven by bright angels and is going to meet your father (feeling awkward and shy with a small bunch of flowers) and all these people you mention so lovingly and so cherished by her.And Husband and Wife will talk about last news from life, and she will tell him about your affectionate and sensitive company through her last living days!

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