Saturday, 20 February 2010

a winter's tale

It was a particularly cold Winter that year. The snow had fallen thickly on the golf course that lay between our home and the beach. Mum and I had spent the afternoon on the shore, picking up large sheets of ice from rock pools. "Lifting the lids" never got old for me, and neither she nor I noticed how late it was until, all at once, night had fallen. I remember stars in the sky.

As we crested the dunes, we saw that it was even darker inland. The golf course was a vast unlit area and our path home was obscured by the snow, which had drifted deeply and made a nonsense of the landscape. I held Mum's hand and we started forward across the suddenly unfamiliar territory.

As a kid in unaccustomed snow, I was still enjoying the adventure, but I could sense that Mum was tense. The lights of home on the horizon blinded us to the ground directly in front of us. We quickly lost our way.

We walked gingerly, our footsteps in the snow doubled, crusting and crumping.

As I remember it, Mum decided we should climb to the top of a rise to check we were still headed in the right direction. Once we had our bearings, we started off again but suddenly she WAS GONE from my side.

I was dumbstruck.

Beside me there was a hole - a Mother-shaped hole in the snow.

It was just like a 'Tom and Jerry' cartoon, when Tom runs through a wall and leaves his outline behind. Beside me was a hole that clearly showed two outstretched arms. It took a second for my brain to work out what had happened. Just as I heard Mum's outraged cry, I realised that she must have walked over the edge of a deep bunker filled loosely with snow.

For probably a full minute I was unable to help Mum because I was laughing too hard.

I'm not sure Mum ever truly saw the funny side, but it became a family story. It's been told so many times over the years that I'm not sure whether I truly remember the details or whether I'm recalling images evoked by the retellings.

And, of course, now the story has a poetic poignancy for me. Because Mum and I are wandering once again across uncertain territory, walking haltingly across a landscape of forgetfulness.

And so very often I feel the Mother-shaped hole at my side.


karen said...

lovely and a little scary story. Thanks for sharing. You have a way with words.

Lily said...

Oh yes, I know that 'mother shaped hole' very well. ((((Greg))))

Y | O | Y said...

Nicely told. :)

Greg said...

Thanks all... this is one I've been thinking about for a few months. I thought I'd make a poem out of it but that never happened and then the recent snows just made me realise that NOW was the time to put the words down. Given the subject of this blog, it's a little disturbing to admit that my memory of the event is patchy, and I don't understand quite how my Mum managed to fall so deeply through the snow. All I remember is the comic suddenness of it, the mother-shaped hole, and her indignation at my finding it at all amusing.

accidental carer said...

This is funny and sad. I can associate so much with it. At least you are still travelling together x

LSL said...

So rich, Greg. I felt so many emotions reading that. So difficult, and very well said, as usual.

Hua said...


Great blog post. That was quite the story, and I'm glad your mom was okay.  I really enjoyed learning about your dealings with Alzheimer's.  With your positive outlook on life, I feel that your blog would be a great addition to Wellsphere's HealthBlogger Network (HBN).  The HBN has over 3,000 bloggers that share a common goal to share their knowledge with others, which enables Wellsphere to provide information that is personal and relevant to Alzheimer's.

Feel free to visit our Health Blogger Network at, where you can apply to join. Or just email me at hua [at] wellsphere [dot] com.

Have a great day!
Director of Blogger Networks

Greg said...

Thanks all, again

This was a different kind of post for me: not something that just happened but something more poetic, stitched from incomplete memories. I was unsure about posting it because I thought it might not sit with the others.

I should have remembered that it's ALWAYS the posts I have doubts over that people like. I should leave my comfort zone more often :)

G x

citygirl said...

Ohhhh Greg, I am just catching up on my reading as I was away. What a beautiful but sad entry. I really enjoyed reading it, as choked up as I am right now. I wonder in your current walk, if there's a home with lights on in the horizon?

Greg said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it, citygirl/mom-2-be. I know you feel these things keenly still, so I feel guilty about making you sad, but I know you appreciate these entries, too.

I did end up making it into a poem, which I must post on my other site sometime, when I'm sure it's in a stable form.

Hmm... as for lights on the horizon these days... I think Mom's already home and tucked up warm (it IS so WARM in these Care Homes, isn't it?). I mentioned this story to Mum a week ago on a visit and she immediately brightened up and said "Oh YES!" but couldn't really supply any of the details. I was hoping for some fresh detail to add to my story, but no joy there. I think she was genuine in remembering some vestige of the incident.

Greg said...

Oh, I'd better put it up while I think of it:

Sorata said...

I thought this was going to be a scary post and I was all tensed up until little Greg started laughing about the Mum in a hole... what a great read :D

BigAssBelle said...

Good lord, you're killing me this morning, Greg. I can't even bear to think about daddy these days. And here you are, so eloquently putting it into words for all of us. I have a father-shaped hole in my life, gone but still there. Unbearable.

Greg said...

Ah Lynette, I really don't mean to torture you. There have been so many of your stories that have pierced me - I'm honoured that one of mine has touched you again. I think about you and the Yucatan house often. Look out for me on the beach one day x