Memories Of My Mother – 1
October 7, 2012 in Memories Of My Mother
She kept a little stash of sweets in the lounge cupboard, where the curtains and pillow-slips are. She died yesterday, and today it seems like a good idea to change my bedding. It’s not been changed in about three weeks, but it’s not that dishevelled. For the past three weeks I’ve been sleeping in my clothes, as it gave me one less thing to think about while I cared for her. Now, she’s gone. There’s a huge gap, and I’m filling it today with domestic chores while I cry.
The sweets were the ones you get on the rack at my local shop around the corner. They are strawberry flavoured, and you got three packets for £1. She went through a phase of eating them, as she did with confectionery. For a month it could be Mars Bars, the next month maybe Ready Salted crisps. No reason. I don’t remember the last time she had a hankering for these, but it must’ve worn-off just as she bought them. Hence them being stashed in the lounge cupboard, next to her chair.
She died on Saturday morning, the 6th of October, 2012, approximately 10.30am. It was a beautiful, Autumnal morning in Scotland. I’ve experienced no greater loss in my life, ever.
I think writing about this will help me. I don’t have many friends here. Over the past five years, maybe the past ten, I grew increasingly embarrassed at my living situation – staying with my mother at my age. A lot of those years were spent in a deep depression, sometimes suicidal. Eventually my mother’s health and well-being mingled with my own need for security, a constant in my life, and for about the past three or four long years I’ve unconsciously (and then consciously) recoiled from any friendship that wasn’t virtual. The virtual friends don’t have to visit here and see my tears, or see my mother deteriorate, or watch a slow spiral into poverty.
I also loved her very much. More than anyone else I’ve loved in my life, even my sister. Even when she wasn’t very lucid, she was still great to be around. I never thought about that until now, but it seems to be true, and that truth realisation seems to be stemming the tears for a bit. I loved her. That’s why I stayed. Now she’s dead, I’m kind of tired of being ashamed of that.
I loved her very much. That’s why.
I’m doing a second washing here, the rest of the whites. They’re on a final spin I think from the sound in the kitchen. I’m going to stick them in the dryer even though I’m on Emergency Credit on the meter. That’s me not giving a fuck, that’s my rock and roll – 50p down on credit, just to dry towels so I can put them away. That’s me rocking.
Her state pension gets in at around 4am on Monday morning. When she was alive I usually had to go down to the Tesco Express at around that time every Monday morning to get her money out, because by then she’d be out of cigarettes and both of us maybe something else, like food. But it was always the cigarettes, really. The final ones were Sterling Superkings. She’d go through at least 30 – 40 over 24 hours. When you couple the cost of that habit, and her income from her State Pension, and my Incapacity Benefit, you’re not talking a whole of load of disposable income after cigarettes. That’s why I used to go down, in the middle of the night, half a mile away or so, to Tesco Express, and hope the machine was working, and then hope the money was in.
She had early-onset dementia, and she would just not quit. She was very stubborn already. I don’t even see it as a fault, now that’s she’s gone. I’d kill for her being stubborn right now, if I’m honest. I’d gladly aquiesce yet again and spend money we can’t afford on her habit if it gave me another hour or so with her conscious, so I could say goodbye knowing she was conscious and could hear me.
I said goodbye to her as she lay in front of me, dead, on a beautiful Saturday morning. The curtains in the room were pulled over, and the anglepoise light was still on and facing the wall, and it gave a warm, clear glow to the interior. It was very quiet, but you could pick up sounds from the other rooms, some talk. For a while I didn’t hear anything, and I just looked at her. She looked as if she was sleeping, and her face wasn’t slightly contorted in pain as it continually had been over the past two weeks. Peaceful. Her mouth was slightly open, her arms straight by her side. I held her hand and it was still warm. I was glad. I think I was in there for fifteen minutes, twenty, in total. I told her things I’ll tell you later, probably. I called her a “poor wee soul” when I’d walked in, and I think I repeated that about ten times during that final moment with her. It just seemed apt. She was a wee woman, at the end probably slightly under 5 foot. Her posture at the end made her look shorter.
She’d wanted to wash her hair on Monday, or Tuesday. She didn’t ask me about it until Wednesday, I think. Something about using a kitchen chair to sit on while she bent over the sink. I said that the angle she’d need for her neck would still be too high. I never even asked if she wanted me to wash it for her. She knew the toll she was taking on me sometimes. And I think this was one of those occasions, and she decided to not inflict this indignity upon me. Also – she was completely paranoid about water getting in her ears, and would probably never have trusted anyone, not even her own son and carer, not to get water in there.
When she died her hair was kind of matted and slightly greasy. I brushed it to one side on her forehead, into some kind of style, while I sat with her on Friday night and Saturday morning. I can feel it now. She used to talk about cats with her hairdresser, and tell me the latest news when she returned.
I’m going to make some tea now. And stick the towels in the dryer. And check on the cats.
There’s a lot to write about her.