Well, as I sit in the annexe off my family home the sun is setting and it is about -2 degrees outside, with the forecast of as low as -6 for tonight and snow predicted, so who knows what I will wake up to tomorrow?
Over the past four months, I have had a lot of challenges to overcome since my mother and best friend passed away, following a short illness to pancreatic and liver cancer. And, I am certain that I will have many more to overcome over the months and years ahead but I am certainly ready.
I realise that nursing my mother was a huge part of my grieving process, so it has helped me move on and cope in the way that I am. And, the best part was that while I was sorting out the affairs and living in the family home alone, she and my dad kept a watchful eye over me and kept me safe. By that I mean, in an old house you hear a lot of noises but three days before she died, to the day I moved out, I heard nothing. However, one night when an awful storm hit the back of the house I did wonder, but they got me through it. So, now I believe that the house is at peace and my sister and her family can enjoy putting life back into it.
Just before Christmas my mother was honoured with being made an Honorary Alderman of South Oxfordshire of which she is only one of four people to be given this honour and the first women, if I remember correctly.
Christmas was remarkably easy as it was also 13 years since my Dad passed too, but everyone got on and I think my Mum would have been proud of us as we did her proud. Then, I filled the house with friends as I made the most of the last few weeks of having the space. However one night, a friend decided to tell ghost stories and as a result totally freaked everyone and I was grateful they all stayed that night but never admitted to being scared.
Since Christmas, I have packed up the family home where I discovered my mother was a hoarder and for everyone who thought she was very organised – if only! I even had to sort through a whole chest of drawers of my father’s stuff, so that was interesting and brought some tears and some laughs. Going through all the pictures and finding my mum’s diary when she was courting my dad – and she said I was out too much!
I have had a few blue days who wouldn’t, when I have wanted to ask my mum for guidance, but I have gone to my mum’s amazing friends, who have been there for me and listened and given me words of wisdom in her absence. Then, there is my ‘little man’ who is my godson who has been a really good tonic and of course my friends in London. My New Year’s resolution was to live in the ‘present’0 and not in the past and learn the power of the word ‘no’ and not to feel guilty saying it out loud, and its working.
My mum’s best friends cottage was victim of arson attack a couple of weeks ago, so I have been helping her and hope that this weekend she will be settled in her new temporary home and settled. As at the age of 80, to be woken by smoke detectors to see your home of 40 odd years go up in flames couldn’t have been easy for everyone and she was amazing. This fire was linked to that of SODC and in some ways, I am pleased my mother wasn’t here to see it especially if she had been unwell as she would have had me running around! Then, at the same time the local funeral parlour where mum’s ashes were stored was also victim of the arsonist and we envisaged her ashes being spread across South Oxfordshire but fortunately this was not the case and they were safe.
So, the next challenge is where do we spread her ashes and what can we organise to mark our mother’s life locally. This is when we are going round in circles as different ideas but she certainly will be spread across the farm to be with Dad and return to Durham which is where her roots are and where all her family are.
Some days it’s as if she is on a long holiday and she’ll walk through the door but I realise it isn’t the case but she is with me, as I surround myself with memories and all the orchids I gave her to mark Dad’s anniversary and now I just need to think of something can mark her anniversary.
My tip to anyone experiencing the loss of a parent or anyone they have known is to talk about them when you want to and not that I do it, but ask for help and don’t be too independent and most important know that crying in public is not a sign of weakness, in fact it makes you human. Friends and family only know you’re struggling if you tell them.
Remember Wednesday 4th February is ‘Beat Cancer Day’ so take some time out and remember someone you have lost.