It’s currently 5 am and I have been up for an hour. Our dog woke me up at 3.45 needing to be let out for a night-time wee and I wasn’t able to get back to sleep. I could feel Mum pulling me towards the computer to write a blog. This was, after all her chosen time to be up researching and blogging and having deep and meaningful conversations with people all over the world.
It’s been nearly four months since Mum died and over three months since my last blog post. I’ve been busy, just a little, but that’s no excuse – I’ve had the biggest case of writers block.
I know there are stories to be written along the lines of those that Mum used to write about her family. After all, that is why she set up this blog in the first place, but they haven’t formed in my brain yet. I hope that they do.
Nothing has really presented itself to be worthy of sharing with anyone, let alone her loyal followers who were intrigued with her blogs, touched by her honesty, inspired by her bravery and drawn in to her love of investigating and sharing her knowledge. What could I say that would be anywhere near as interesting as that?
Well yesterday I was at Mum’s house and it hit me that I need to write. I need to share this experience and this realisation with those that she loved. I’m sure that some of you have been wondering how I am going, and been concerned about the silence on Mum’s blog. It all takes time, one foot in front of the other.
So, my “aha” moment came when I was sweating and scrubbing Mum’s shower alcove. Anyone who knows me knows that I do not enjoy any aspect of cleaning, and I especially despise cleaning bathrooms. But for me, yesterday was not about just cleaning a bathroom, I realised it was much more important than that. It was a continuation of the bond and the love that I have for my Mum and the commitment that I made to help her with aspects of her life that she found difficult or was not able to do on her own.
Mum had been ill for a while. She had COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder which meant that her lungs didn’t work very well at all. This worsened earlier in the year, which now was an indication that there was something more sinister happening, as she died in July of lung cancer.
So, with her illness came the inability to do much at all physically. Walking more than 10 steps would mean she was out of breath. So, of course, scrubbing her shower alcove went down the list of her priorities as she conserved her energy for more meaningful things in her life.
I knew this and could see her bathroom was getting pretty grubby, but my time with her was spent on the higher priority things like “chewing the fat” whilst drinking coffee around her kitchen table, sweeping the floor, putting on and hanging out loads of washing, taking her to doctors appointments, chemist trips and phone calls to various authorities to sort out things that she was not able to handle herself.
So the shower alcove was left for another day.
That day was yesterday.
I knew that Mum would have been embarrassed by the state of her bathroom, and I know that it was my trusted position to restore some dignity to her, even after her death.
So, I covered the whole shower alcove in “Easy off Bam, bathroom” and then I began scrubbing. And scrubbing. And rinsing. And soaking and scrubbing.
Rather than hating it, I enjoyed the feeling that with every bit of soap scum removed, I was continuing on the commitment that I made to help her with things that she could no longer do. There will be people coming to her house over the coming months, some that she knows well, some that she knows not very well, and some that she doesn’t know at all. She would not have wanted any of them to see the state of her bathroom as it was, but I feel so much better now knowing that is no longer the case.
I know that she is not here to be embarrassed any more about the state of her bathroom, but death does not take away your pride and your dignity and those of us that remain have the responsibility of making sure that we honour her memory by making sure that there are no sideways glances or pity parties about how ill she was and how tough she did it, by strangers or any of those that were not in her trusted inner circle.
This is why I cleaned her bathroom, this is why I watered her lawn and her pot plants, this is why I took the clothes that she had in bags in her boot of her car that were meant to be donated to charity and this is why I am continuing my weekly commitment to help her with the jobs that she is no longer able to do.
With each of these jobs there is a sense of doing the right thing. Of making sure that the “treasures” in her life are looked after – the photos, jewellery, cards and letters that I have in a drawer as well as her house. She loved her house and when her health was better this was obvious to all.
All of the things that were higher up the list of priorities – the chewing of the fat and the doctors appointments have now dropped off the list altogether, which means that the priority list has changed, but my time spent “with” her is still addressing the priorities. At the top of the list, which I keep under control weekly is handling all of her mail and making sure her bills are paid and unwanted or unneeded memberships and associations are cancelled and then the next of the list is sorting, clearing, maintaining, cleaning and eventually throwing out, donating or selling the possessions in her life, some of which were treasures and some which were not.
This will keep me and my brothers busy for some time.
But for now, here is your sparkling bathroom Mum and here is the new post on your blog – one of your very greatest treasures.