At the marina at the weekend, I made a new friend: Milo.
I got the news when I woke up; an email to say my father’s elder sister, the last of his siblings, had died in the early hours.
It wasn’t altogether a surprise. My cousin Helen contacted me on Sunday to say her mother was very unwell and receiving palliative care. I don’t yet know the details. At Christmas the news was that she was in great shape and the family was confident she would reach her hundredth birthday in March next year. I was thinking of going to see her. She lived these last dozen years or in Gozo where both her daughters had moved with their husbands.
So it’s a while since I saw her, and she hasn’t been able to write for some time. I am not sure she would have known who I was, but I am sure the connection would still have been there. She was the dearest and loveliest of aunts. I spent many hours in her company. We watched Diana Rigg in the Avengers on Friday evenings, walked her dogs across the common and down by the river.
She had a foray into dog breeding – wire haired Dachshunds, great little dogs with big personalities. Her Saluki, Penny, aka The Duchess, disapproved of their rough and tumble ways and how they would commandeer her bed. Continue reading
Yesterday evening today stretched like a blank canvas of possibility. Even better when I woke to sunshine and blue sky after an afternoon of persistent rain and dribbly skies all evening.
I thought about going to IKEA and looking at the kitchens. Maybe a visit to the newly refurbed IWM, or even the Cabinet War Rooms. But in the end, I had a largely domestic day with MasterB. One appointment before lunchtime; washing drying on the line; a visit to the bank to pay a bill and to pay in a cheque.
I was daydreaming in the short queue, aware that someone a couple of places behind me was talking, and assuming it was a mobile phone conversation. Then the woman after me in the queue stepped really close and I was jolted into the present. Very clearly, I heard a man muttering, “I hate you. You are disgusting.”
Oh-oh, one of those mobile phone conversations. Well at least he wasn’t shouting. Once tuned in, I couldn’t help hearing more: a long stream of hatred and invective. A monologue. I glanced round. The man did not have a mobile phone. He was queuing quietly with everyone else on a sunny Saturday morning with his hatred of the world spewing out of his mouth. By now, the woman behind me was virtually standing on my heels.
Is it better someone this disturbed is speaking aloud than those words just spin silently in his own head where no one else can hear them? I don’t know.
Back at home, MasterB wanted indoor play. String was the thing. I put my paper aside and picked up my camera.
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.
If you follow my blog regularly, this’ll probably make sense. If you don’t, let me explain. This is a photograph of my mother. She is very young. Not yet twenty I’d guess.
She is working as an assistant nurse, or whatever title they were given then, at Forster Green Hospital just outside Belfast. While there she witnessed the Belfast Blitz. She said that the matron had called her to go up onto the roof so that they could deal with fire damage. Mother was none too keen.