I decided not to say anything on social media yesterday, but it was the ten year anniversary of Mum’s death on Sunday. In fact, I don’t think I said much at all. Except to Dexter of course, I always make an exception for him.
Dexter had just turned one when we lost Mum, so he doesn’t remember her, but I make sure I tell him stories about how much she loved him (and all her grandchildren), how she’d feed him, play with him, bounce him on her knee. For someone that doesn’t remember his Nan, he has a great emotional attachment to her and he broke down a couple of times during the day.
As for me, I didn’t cry at all. Not even when we put a dozen white roses on her grave which, on a scale of really sad things to do, is pretty much near the top of the list! I guess the thing about grief is that there is no ‘right’ time to grieve, to cry, or to miss someone. It has its own schedule. It has a canny nack of hitting you when you least expect it. Like when Eurovision comes on and I suddenly remember Mum and I making a chart of who our favourite acts were and scoring them accordingly from our respective houses, and then calling each other up to see how we compared. Or when I go to what was our favourite café and I see other mothers and daughters there just enjoying each others’ company, like we used to do. Or when I walk past the oak dresser that’s in the dining room of the house I now live in and see all the photos of her – at my wedding, at my brothers’, stood with her sister wearing the most fabulous matching green dress and jacket.
Aaah, I remember that outfit well. As usual, I was with her when she bought it. We’d go shopping every Saturday with each other, invariably bringing Nan along too for her weekly trip out. Mum thought the outfit was rather expensive but I told her it was worth it. She was worth it. She worried that the dress was too short as it was just above the knee. I told her she had great legs and could carry it off. She worried the colour was too bright. I told her it complimented her fair hair and freckly skin.
At least I said those things in my head … I’m not sure if I ever said them out loud.
I know I’ve written about Mum before on my blog and I don’t want to feel I’m going over the same thing time and time again, but it’s very difficult, especially for me, as a writer, to experience these milestones and not express how I feel. So, my lovely readers, I’m afraid you are my surrogate partner during times like this. You are the people I turn to when I need to get things off my chest.
When I first moved in with Dad, I worried that this house, their house, would be too big a reminder for me and I wouldn’t be able to cope with being here. I know I found it hard to visit Dad in the years after Mum died because being in that house was physically painful. My heart ached for my Mum. Literally everything I see reminds me of her in his house. The old carriage clock next to the fire, the navy blue dining room chair covers that she re-upholstered herself … the peach colour she painted the conservatory wall. I remember everything. But as time has passed, I’ve become accustomed to it all. Now, I take comfort from sitting in the same place on the blue sofa that she used to sit on. Cooking on the same hob that we once cooked Christmas dinner together on all those years ago. Dexter sleeping in her bed.
Maybe Dexter feels her around him and that’s why he has this emotional connection with a woman he never knew, or maybe he sees her in me … the woman and mother I now am.
Grief and loss is never-ending but I take comfort from knowing that the older I get, the more like her I become. I have so many wonderful memories and as much as they may have faded somewhat, they’ll never die. She was one class act that woman. Even when dressed as a punk.