- Death & Loss of Life
An open letter to my mother
Dear Mum ...
Well, today is the year's anniversary of your death and I feel I've reached a milestone in my memory of you.
During this year I have found that I miss you far more than I thought I would and that I would like your forgiveness for not quite understanding the cruel nature of your last illness. You left us mentally long before you did physically and it is to my shame that I would not acknowledge that fact until only your famous fierceness, now boosted by a frightened, last gasp self-awareness of what was happening to you, still remained.
Alzheimers is no laughing matter even though some of the aberrations it produces are funny ... until you remember what is causing them. I forgive you for saying I was a very tall woman who wore a lot of scarves and sang in the street outside your house. I am only a little taller than you and have to admit to wearing the occasional scarf, especially in cold weather, but I have never sung in the street and anyway I was four hundred miles away at the time.
And I have still not been able to discover anything about the unrottable fish that you say you lodged in the branches of the conifer in the front garden but it may yet turn up. As a family that understood black humour it was very hard not being able to share the things that you said with you so that we could laugh it all away together but your illness had robbed you of your amazing sense of humour and your ability to laugh at yourself.
Our relationship had its peaks and troughs, as the mother/daughter relationship often does and you made sure I knew that you disapproved of my wasted talent and restless nature. Though I always thought I knew better, I now appreciate the fact that you believed I could achieve more than I did and I apologise for disappointing you.
From now on I will only remember the happy times; the drinks in the sunshine in the garden before Sunday lunch, the vigorous, often heated, discussions on politics or society, the eye-watering laughter at the stories of our eccentric family and the much-needed affection shown on greeting or leaving. Those are the important things, not my maundering self-pity or grievance at imagined slights.
And it was alright in the end, wasn't it? In the last moments as I sat by you your stubbornness weakened and you told me that you loved me, that you had always loved me and I knew, that despite everything and without doubt, that you did and always had. I had simply been too blind to recognise it.
Although I told you that I loved you too it wasn't enough for me.They were only words, only a throw-away, over-used phrase. So I hoped that somehow something inside you had always known that I loved you, that I loved you unconditionally and that it was impossible for me to not love you because you were my mother and as much a part of me as my own heart.
Rest in peace, mum - talk to you next year maybe?