Not Cricket

My friend Celia and I sat in the garden and talked about dying mothers. We had a conversation in the same vein a few weeks ago in the pub. Celia’s mother has officially been dying for several weeks. She is in her nineties, has had a UTI, has had a chest infection, the doctors say they can’t do anything more, but when she is awake she is lucid and happy. I last saw Celia just before setting off East to Mother’s two weeks ago. She is sharing looking after her mother with her brother, but was home to look after the grandchildren for a change. Now her husband has tripped and fallen on his face, leaving it, she tells me, a purple mess. But she has gone back to her mother’s tonight.
It was a surprisingly upbeat conversation, and we agreed on the weirdness of sitting waiting for someone to die. But MasterB was in the garden too and whizzed about chasing insects, racing up the cherry tree, coming to stop between us, walk over us, rub himself against us. He took to Celia, and wrestled her arm. He is a good reminder that life goes on.

MasterB Last Week

MasterB Last Week


I realise that this time around I know so many more people who have lost one or both parents. My parents were in their thirties, comparatively old for their generation, when they had children, and older than most of my friends’ parents. When Dad died, most of my friends still had both parents. It was isolating. One person at work left me speechless when she expressed surprise that I was still stunned a whole two weeks after he had died. She wasn’t cruel or stupid, but she hadn’t really thought. Within eighteen months both her parents had died. She didn’t recall her comment to me, and I guess had I reminded her she would have been appalled.
Now few of my friends, whether my contemporaries or older, have two parents still living. Having more people near this time who know what it feels like is helpful. They aren’t afraid or awkward around the subject, and realise that we don’t have to be solemn all the time. No one has yet said Mother had a good innings. Fortunate really as both nephews, Nephew’s Wife and I are agreed we may have to slap anyone who suggests that Mother has been playing a game of cricket, and has just gone to the pavilion for tea. Mind, I may have to warn Celia’s husband as he lives, eats and breathes cricket, and may not be able to stop himself. As he is so bruised already, I shouldn’t like to inflict further injury.

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23 thoughts on “Not Cricket

  1. I sure like your spunk. When someone close to us dies, our world seems to need to shift and readjust – and that can take some time. It isn’t a full-time job and funny things happen as it takes place. That work just seems to pop up for quite some time.

    • Not sure the meaning is the same in the UK, see spunk OED meaning 6…
      The best thing I ever read was that when someone close to you dies a landmark from which you take your position vanishes, leaving you, literally, lost.

      • Having spunk (at least the meaning I intended) means being spirited or having courage and determination in the face of adversity. Yes, I like the idea that a landmark vanishes leaving us lost. It felt so strange, this sense of being lost, after my mother died. I was in my 60’s and have always been independent and strong. But all of a sudden… everything felt different.

  2. Hoo boy, we do say the dumbest things sometimes (re: your co-worker’s response to your “long-term” grieving!). Somebody’s gonna say something dumb… hope you will be able to laugh after you whap ’em upside the head! <:-D

  3. I think platitudes are used to cover awkwardness since a lot of people don’t know what to say to properly convey their feelings.

    Once, a friend of mine who had suffered three miscarriages herself, was taking to another lady who had just miscarried – and the only thing she could think to say after how sorry she was, was “at least you had nice weather to be off work”. She was horrified with herself but the words had been blurted out because she couldn’t think of what else to say.

    Grief is such a personal thing, and it comes in waves that you might not even be aware of xxx

  4. I’ve been without both parents for a while now and most of my friends are younger than I, and have theirs still in their lives so I’m the odd man out! Time has softened the edges of the loss but it DID take time. Take all the time you need Isobel to soften the edges…….LOVE that photo of MasterB on the boat – he does love it there doesn’t he…

    Hugs, Pam

    • Thanks Pam. It is something that takes a long time to adjust to. I find I am thinking of Mother almost constantly, though I am not necessarily sad of tearful at the time.
      MasterB is getting the hang of the boat I believe. He would love to be allowed to explore the land around the marina thoroughly, but that is a risk I am not willing to take!

  5. Everyone grieves in their own way. My father died when I was in my teens and although my mother didn’t die until I was in my 50’s, I felt like an orphan when I lost her. My sister died when I was in my 30’s and since we grew up together, I really did feel that ‘loss of a landmark’ with her loss since we shared so many memories that no one else knew about!!
    So glad you have MasterB to help heal your heart.
    Hugs,
    June

    • I have a constant video of mum playing behind my eyes. I think it is probably healthy and allowing me to appear composed while my mind is with her.
      MasterB is a treasure. 🙂 What a lucky day it was for me when I brought him home on the train.

  6. “The best thing I ever read was that when someone close to you dies a landmark from which you take your position vanishes, leaving you, literally, lost.” So true Isobel, so true. My Dad died suddenly when I was 20 and I was so busy worrying about my Mom and shocked over it happening I don’t think I really felt his death. We weren’t really close. My Mom died when I was 35, the same age she was when I was born. My life truly changed that day. Like June says I felt like an orphan. I was an “only”. I wrote to my Mom in a journal after she died. I still have it and continue to write in it when I have something to say. I am not a writer so I found it odd how much it helped/helps me. MasterB looks in command there.. 🙂

    • I replied to you and it vanished. Damn.
      You are a writer. You write. I think we are back to the healing power of expressive writing. Making sense of what we are feeling, what is happening, what is hurting.
      It must be hard being an only. Any cousins? I am supported by the nephews, aunts, uncle, cousins. I know I am lucky to be part of an extended family.

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