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.