Travels With My Mum

Yesterday I went to Commercial End. I wish I had gone there with Mum. It’s delightful. Here’s a taste.

When Dad joined Mum in retirement back in the good old days when women could draw their pensions at sixty while men had to wait until sixty-five (if you notice some bitterness here, it’s because I shan’t get my state pension until I am sixty-seven, and even then it’s not certain, every letter I get puts it back another year), their first goal was to move to a bungalow as a preneed downsizing move in more ways than one. Dad’s second goal, which Mum was happy enough to go along with, was to get a camper van and starting with Scotland which he had visited as a lad on cycling hols, then trained in as part of his Commando instruction, visit the British Isles before moving ionto Europe.
They got the bungalow. Mum was insistent. Nursing geriatrics she had seen too many people for whom the internal stairs of their houses were as the north face of the Eiger.
They never got the camper van. Dad and I looked at some at the Southbank. At the time, that was the place in London where those who had travelled the length and breadth of Europe and were now ready to sit back and look at their slides sold their vans. Dad was enthusiatic. But a year into retirement and he suffered a subarachnoid haemorrhage. Driving was out for six months, and afterwards long distances were something Mum wouldn’t contemplate. Looking back, I can’t understand why they didn’t get a boat. Too late to ask now. I shall never know. Dad had another stroke a couple of years later that affected his speech and language skills; very hard for a man as articulate as he had been. The third stroke when he was just seventy killed him.
I didn’t take Mum to Scotland, but after Dad died when I visited we would head off to a hazy destination, stopping and exploring en route. Most of the places we went to were in Suffolk, some were over the border in Norfolk, a rare few in Cambridgeshire or Essex. Mum and Dad retired to Suffolk. There are a lot of bungalows there. So most of the guide books in the house were for that county. I still have three if them. They are what we would look at before deciding in which direction we would head.
Das Boot is in Cambridgeshire. Once Mum became frailer, and dementia made tourism less viable as she became disorientated and confused by new places, I didn’t really do much exploring anymore.
I was sufficiently interested in Reach to mooch about a little on one or two occasiuons travelling between the marina and the nursing home. I only made it to the pub the day Mum died. I think that is significant. Since then I have explored more, and been to the pub three times. I have more time. Instead of leaving the cat afloat and hastening to Mum, then trying to see Aunt, maybe Mum’s friend who hadn’t been well, I have more choices about what to do when I am East.
I am enjoying visiting places I have only driven through, getting out and looking, but it also reminds me of those days twenty years ago when Mum and I would get back to her house tired and happy, having got to know a little more of the surrounding county. Maybe these visits are a legacy of days we enjoyed together.


7 thoughts on “Travels With My Mum

  1. I can relate to this…..after my Mom went to the nursing home I would often pick her up on weekends and just drive out to “wherever” with her – she’d sit in the passenger seat and smile the entire time. It wasn’t just being “out and about” it was memories of all the family car rides we used to take together when I was a kid. I’m sure of it. To this day when I’m driving somewhere alone I feel her with me……those little excursions you made with your Mum will always be warm memories for you.


  2. ‘legacy of days we enjoyed together’ -that sums it up, not just in traveling but in other aspects of life. There is no getting away from the fact we’re all a continuation of our parents -intellectually wise and life experiences wise. I was fortunate to realize this early on and dragged my parents along into some of my adventures of which one or two nearly meant the end of us all. But it was they whom planted the seed.

    • To drive that home, I spent the day with one of my aunts and then one of my nephews. Aunt, who is ninety, told me more of how she came to do childcare. I hadn’t known she and my mother had both worked at Belfast’s Claremont Street Hospital for people suffering from nervous diseases, and that my mother was insistent they should find jobs there as their mother had worked there as well. With my nephew, we discussed my father. I have long been curious about what he did in the war – he never ever spoke about it – and it seems my nephew had been wondering too, and piecing together little bits of info, doing some research, and believes my father may well have been part of Operation Chariot. If he’s right, it is quite something to get my head round, but it would make sense.
      Aunt’s story was fascinating. I want to hear more. We are in touch with the home she worked for in Scotland, and it is interested in hearing what she has to say. I may record her, but today I just took notes.

      • Fascinating on all levels; those levels that are obvious an those under the surface which exist in the mindset of time an place in a persons early life. Hard to wrap around the idea that we only know our parents as a parent an not as evolving persons and all that comes with a ‘self’. Everyone has a special story, some harder than others to unravel, that often go undiscovered and untold. So many people are private ones, myself included, which come in part from modesty, from humble beginnings, from thinking of themselves as no more special then anyone else -they just do what needs to be done.

        I followed the link to operation Chariot. That would be a head spinner if your father did take part. Not uncommon, many men and women spoke little if at all about their experiences. I suppose everyone’s reasons to remain quiet is unique to them. I suspect often it goes to considering themselves as simple souls not being more special or less special than anyone else in the events of that time.

  3. J. and I were just talking yesterday about how nice it is to have lots of shared memories that are triggered by current travel. I hadn’t thought of it until reading your post, but we are storing up good memories to comfort us after one of us dies. I have read that grief healing takes place as the good memories of our love one replaces the pain of loss. Thanks for sharing your travels and stories with us.

    • And I think the conversation goes on after death as you do things you once did with that person and imagine how they would have responded and felt.
      The thing is, I haven’t been able to explore thsi environment much because Mum was needy. Now she is dead I can. It is a strange feeling.

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