Mum, two years on

mum and dad
My parents on their wedding day in 1967

TODAY is two years since my Mum died. My tears might have dried but the pain lingers.

Her passing was completely unexpected and in an instant my family’s lives were turned upside down. Within an hour of her passing I found myself in my parents’ home, dazed and my eyes raw from crying, my arm around my stunned dad.

Everywhere I looked in their home I saw my mum. Her winter coat hanging in the hall. Her walking sticks leaning against the wall. Her glasses, necklace and watch by the bed where she’d put them the night before she died.

Next to the sofa were boxes of unopened Christmas cards, ready for one of her marathon signing sessions. She always undertook this task weeks before December.

Wanting to get paperwork in order, I searched through cupboards and wardrobes, becoming tearful when I was suddenly confronted by her clothes, each item triggering a fresh memory. I found boxes of photographs. Pride of place was her wedding album.

Fresh tears tumbled as I opened the decades-old pages. Staring back at me were mum and dad, a young, happy couple, life’s exciting journey ahead of them.

Mum was 22, and I was struck by how beautiful she looked. My dad stood next to her, aged 31, looking like a young Tony Curtis. That was August 1967. The last time I saw my mum she was excitedly planning their golden wedding celebrations.

The book she had been reading was by the side of the sofa. It was a family saga, the sort Catherine Cookson used to write. Her bookmark was tucked inside, 30 pages from the end. It would have irritated her to not know how the story ended.

That’s what’s struck me since she died. There are so many unresolved stories. So many loose ends never to be tied up. But life isn’t a novel or a Hollywood film. There are no happy or sad endings. Just an unceasing flow of experiences and interlaced lives.

Sadly, there are no more moments. Just memories.

Something like this pulls you up short. Makes you take stock. It is time to pull those we love close and tell them we love them.

Because, as my mum used to say, you never know what’s round the corner.

(A version of this article was originally published by the Warrington Guardian in November 2016.)

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