Saying goodbye has been so hard
It’s been four weeks since my mum died.
The flowers friends sent have faded and the cards have been put away.
The absent-minded urge to pick up the phone to call her seems to be receding, replaced by a gnawing, growing acceptance that I will never hear her voice again.
I’ve experienced loss before - grandparents, a beloved aunt, and my dad when I was a child.
And yet, the unique pain of bereavement still has the power to surprise, no matter how many times it has struck before. The numbing grief which overwhelms every thought is brutal and pitiless.
And now there’s the long, complex business of winding up a lifetime.
Mum was born in Govan and grew up in a room and kitchen in Scotstoun. Her beloved dad was killed in the Clydeside Blitz and she left school to support her family, working in the post office.
When my dad died she returned to work there, soldiering on behind the counter until she was over 80.
Each time she reached‘65’, she’d retire again and move to another sub post office, shaving a decade off her age.
She was insecure about leaving school at 14 and went to night class in her 50s, scoring straight As in her Highers.
As she got older, she became more confident. She was funny, opinionated, thrawn, and passionately socially liberal. She always objected when people told her that things were better in the old days. She liked living now.
Mum moved into her flat as a young bride in 1960 and never left.
Cupboards and boxes are bursting with her memories - ancestors on pre-paper tin photography plates posing on location in the Australian gold rush, her father’s Bible with a child’s scribbles on the front piece, and her own mother’s last gift - a birthday card with a £10 note she couldn’t bring herself to spend.
Each day at the house brings tears. She’d kept her wedding horseshoe, made of silver with a white satin ribbon attached, and every anniversary card my dad had sent her.
All his love letters too. They’d been work colleagues and he’d dropped countless billets-doux furtively on to her desk as he’d passed.
My school report cards are all there. None to be proud of.
And then there are her diaries scribbled in jottings dozens of them charting who was in and who was out of favour over the decades.
Clearing the house will take months.
I can’t wait for the process to be over. And yet, I don’t want it to end and have to put the key in the lock of my childhood home one final time.
As a beautiful young woman, my mum had been surrounded by men and loved their company.
That never changed. My abiding memory of a dozen holidays with her in Greece throughout her 80s was returning from the beach to find her at the hotel swimming pool surrounded by handsome, young, gay men hanging on her every word.
She could light up a room.