Return to das Boot

MasterB and I are settling down for the night on das Boot. It’s the first time we have come here since Mother died, and perhaps predictably, I shed quite a few tears on the journey East in the car. Last time I drove up here it was to sit by her bedside for five days as she died.
I want to do something tomorrow to honour Mother, but I don’t know what. We have no grave to visit. Her bungalow has tenants. The chapel where her funeral was held is usually locked. I could ask the minister to let me go there, but he would probably want to be there too, or i would have to say how long I want to be there, and I just want a bit of time with Mum on my own and no complications. There’s the nursing home. Perhaps the church where she worshipped, and where my father’s funeral took place, might be open. I could slip inside, sit down and remember them both.
Or maybe I could go for a walk with my camera. Bear witness to the countryside, to the fields of poppies she enjoyed; walk around the cricket field with dog biscuits in my pockets; see if there are bargains in the charity shops. See her in every corner and turning of the town she and my father retired to.

I am glad I came here today. I knew das Boot was Assuming Proportions. It was here I came back to for five nights from Mother’s death bed, here I heard she had died, here I spent the next few days away from the world, thinking, wrongly, as I found out, that I was coming to terms with her loss. But I am glad I spent those days here afterwards. And maybe they will be the continuing comfort of this place. I bought das Boot so that I would have a base to visit Mother where I could stay with Cat. Now both Mother and Cat are dead. MasterB is less zen about the whole experience than Cat was, though having said that, he has been fine tonight and is curled up asleep, having been possibly overstimulated by all the noises and the swans up close to the boat.
I slept well here while Mother was dying, and even afterwards,. My sleep has been erratic over the last few weeks.
I wish I had bought a boat earlier, when Mother was still fit. She would have loved it. In fact when I told her about it, she was very excited. Then she sat upright, and asked, “But how am I going to get on it?” “With a hoist and a lot of screaming,” I answered. In the end, she never saw das Boot. She came to the marina before the boat arrived and enjoyed a summer party, but as she became increasingly frail, and disorientated by change, it seemed best not. Maybe, one day when the sun was shining, I should have brought her here. Instead, I shall have to imagine her pleasure in it. It’s funny. I can see her younger self here so clearly, happy, watching the birds, enjoying the slight movement, the snugness, the quiet. Maybe it is at the marina, and aboard das Boot, that I shall find Mother tomorrow.


23 thoughts on “Return to das Boot

  1. Oh Isobel…..bittersweet being back at das Boot I’m sure……somehow I think it’s a good place for you to remember her though – between that and wandering with your camera in the beauty of the countryside – after all that’s where she “is” – not inside a building of any sort I should think…..even a church. You’ll perhaps hear her in the breeze……..enjoy your time on the boat – in the quiet.

    Hugs, Pam

    • Thanks Pat. I slept very well and for hours! I woke up, looked at the time, thought about getting up, closed my eyes and went back to sleep. MasterB was very tolerant. I changed his litter tray in the middle of the night and again when I got up, but he let me sleep in. Now someone else is on his boat nearby and running the engine, so MasterB has gone back to bed. I have had a leisurely breakfast, succeeded in getting online, and the sun is shining. It is good to be here.

  2. Yes, I agree with Pam. It is obvious that your mother is held in your heart and in your memories, which means that she can be wherever you are. What has been strange for me is that I can smile as I hold my mother present with me while at the same time ache because she isn’t. I am sure your heart will tell you what you need to do over the next few days.

    • Thanks Gilly. I don’t know if your parents are alive or not. I am trying to articulate for myself how this feels. To take my emotional temperature, and to find my mother in this welter of see sawing emotions. If that helps someone else, it would be great. The comments people leave here help me too. Sometimes someone says something that just hits the nail on the head, and it is comforting.

  3. (Having internet problems–hope I can leave a comment and run before it dies again!)

    I had been wondering how das Boot would be for you, whether you’d feel up to being there with all those intense memories. Turns out it’s still the place to be close to your mother, for which I feel gratitude for you.

    The pace you’re keeping sounds just right… it may not feel very focused perhaps, but taking time and doing what you want is the perfect pace.

    • Thanks Laurel. I am having connectivity issues too – in more ways than one…
      Ideally, I would have two years off. I don’t think that can happen, but maybe I can retire from one of my jobs, and live on lentils for a while.
      The boat is an expense, so it all comes into the equation. However today I feel it is also a valuable bolt hole, so o big decisions yet awhile.
      Thanks for your good thoughts.

      • ah yes, connectivity… getting from point A to point B internally can make for a big day occasionally!

        Follow your wishes, Isobel. You may not know all the steps to get what you want, but heading in that direction, I’ve found, begins to pave the path. Choices are presented, we say yea or nay, and the path continues.

        I know that approaching unsympathetic work was not easy, but what I see from way over here is that asking for what you wanted, time, opened up a space for you. The greatest gift we can give ourselves after compassion is time full of space.

        das Boot–not yet time to do something different, eh? Let ‘er ride and enjoy….

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