It’s been a year since my Mum passed away.
It seems longer sometimes and other times only recently, I guess dementia does that, and the distance to travel too.
Mum died on Winnie the Pooh Day. I found that out by accident, and I think she would have been amused by it.
I miss writing her letters, and get tearful thinking about her and all those words on paper that will never be read again. I don’t have a single letter from her unless there is one tucked away somewhere, but I do have a box of keepsake cards and there are several in there from her as I kept them all after we moved away.
Mum didn’t write to me in the latter years, the last letter I received from her was shortly after we’d bought the boat in 2014 and that had been the first for almost a year.
At first I was hurt, even angry, because I didn’t know what was going on, but I’m glad I kept writing. I rang too, but could sense her frustration sometimes at not being able to recognise the voice at the end of the phone. Although I identified myself, she once told me I didn’t sound like her Di and demanded Who was this?!
This got worse in time, so apart from on her birthday or Christmas, I wrote twice a week instead.
Photo: Mum and me, May 2015
I remember visiting once and she was reading a letter I’d written several months before. She smiled and said she hadn’t got round to answering it yet. From what I understood, she read them often, unaware of dates or sequence, each one new as if it had just been received because she couldn’t remember reading it before.
Our visits were few and far between because of the distance concerned, sometimes as long as a nine hour journey depending on traffic and we were not in a position to afford overnight accommodation, but I have good memories of outings, music and laughter, and no-one can take those away.
Mum and I may not have appeared to be as close as some Mothers and Daughters, but we had a special bond, and especially after Dad died, I made sure to give her lots of hugs when we were together and to tell her I loved her. On occasion before we moved away, I’d take her up to the crematorium on Dad’s birthday, the anniversary of his passing, Father’s Day, or their wedding anniversary and we’d sit under the tree where Dad’s ashes had been scattered. Sometimes we’d just listen to the birds, others we’d talk about Dad and how things were when I was growing up.
When Mum came up for holidays we often talked about Dad, and I know how much she missed him. We’d laugh about his homebrew, him and I playing cribbage as she was counting her knitting stitches and a thousand other things that made us a family.
I don’t know if her ashes were scattered under the same tree as we couldn’t make the journey down, but at the specified time, we lit a candle here and I played the Wind Beneath My Wings and let the tears flow.
Hubby and I talk about Mum, how she’d stand in doorways to chat, get lost in the cottage because it was such a warren of extensions, how we’d tease her, untie her apron strings, our outings to bingo, shopping or the river to see the ducklings. She would have loved it here last year with so many and would have been fascinated by the goslings too.
Mum loved daffodils on the roadside and bluebell woods, gathering nuts and blackberries, swans, rabbits and dogs, cooking and knitting. I can go anywhere, see anything, and the chances are a memory of Mum will come to mind and she’s always smiling.
Photo: Mum and Me Sept 2016
A year. Three hundred and sixty five days.
The pain is still raw, the tears are still there, the loss still acute but it brings me comfort in the thought that she and my Dad are together again.
I miss them both, their physical presence, their smiles and their warmth. I always will, but they are with me every day, from a glance in the mirror to the music I play.
They are never far away.
Photo: Mum and Dad on their 25th Wedding Anniversary (1975) and Chopper, the stuffed gorilla I bought for Dad when I shared the photos of my helicopter ride in 1996.