Monday, 24 March 2008

throwing mum away

It’s like an archaeological dig clearing out a parent’s home. Every cupboard, every drawer divulges some artefact that you remember from elsewhere in your ancient childhood.

Then there are the geological strata of purchasing to go through, where useful items like, say, batteries have been bought, stored, covered by something, then bought and stored again in repeated cycles. Empty canisters, used products are added to the heap, unaccountably. Peeling away these layers of carelessness is depressing. Once again, the bin bags are swelling as I come across new stashes of detritus. Everywhere there is evidence of Mum trying to carry on her life but failing, and stashing the evidence rather than disposing of it. This chaos is indicative of her mental state, it somehow is her, and I’m ruthlessly throwing her away in handfuls.

I am in her bedroom now. The bed is one of those electrically adjustable ones. It’s frozen in a half-up state. I find that a cable has been dislodged. How long has it been like that? Is that another reason why Mum started sleeping in her chair in the Living Room? This is all so pathetic that I feel tears rising.

I sit in the Living Room trying to concentrate on the flickering, malfunctioning TV, eating my microwave meal. It’s too quiet and lonely here, and I write as someone who normally looks for solitude. I think about Mum’s existence here and the tears come.


Matt said...

I'm sorry, Greg. I can imagine, somewhat, how it must feel to be there.

After my Dad died, I spent an afternoon alone in his house. The hospital bed was still there that he passed away in, his crossword puzzle books were on the table, and all his clothes that I remembered even as a child were in his closet and dresser. And the house was silent. It hit me then that this was what his life had been like toward the end, but painful.

Even though your Mum may be losing huge portions of her memory, you still have her and your memories. You can still make her happy and less lonely. That's really a wonderful thing, as hard as it is on you. You have an understanding of her feelings while she's still with you, probably still for a good while. That's a huge gift to both of you.

God, I tend to write depressing things these days, but I hope you know I mean this as a positive comment. Another big hug from Seattle.

Greg said...

Yes, that sounds just like what I was feeling. And you said it more poignantly, too. Honestly, Matt, if we carry on like this the Red Cross will start dropping Prozac parcels our way.

Matt said...

Well, that's what blogs are for ... I find myself cleansing some old feelings sometimes by reading what you're experiencing. Not sure about the Prozac. Let's just have a drink next time you're in town. :)

Dee said...

Sorry I've been AWOL - I have been reading though. I imagine going through my mom's stuff will be very difficult -- I went through my aunt's stuff when she passed and that was sad. Does your mom leave notes all around the house? My mom & aunt did -- everywhere -- under lamps, in tissue boxes, etc. etc. D

Greg said...

Yes, now that you mention it, I have found a lot of notes. With Mum, they're mostly on the first pages of notebooks, which have then obviously been mislaid because she's then gone out and bought another and another. They're desultory lists of purchases or notes to herself to buy something. I'd love to find an observation here or an epiphany there, but they're mostly of the "buy milk" variety. Mum's handwriting has declined so markedly that I doubt she's writing much now. Her signature was unrecognisable last year, and she hasn't been able to read her own writing for several months.