Normal service will be resumed shortly.
This Saturday my sister-in-law (well ex-sister-in-law, we got custody of her in the divorce instead of getting my brother – Yay!) and two adult nieces are coming up to join Daniel and I scattering my mum’s ashes in our newly refurbed garden. The garden project has been rumbling for some time but when my sister and I decided finally to split her ashes and sow some in my sisters garden in the Isle of Wight, a place she loved and some in my garden, the project ramped up a gear. I would be horrified to place my mothers last bodily remains in the junk yard that my garden was. So the last 3 weeks has been a flurry of gardeners and deliveries and patio and soil and plants and now it’s ready for Saturday.
In the meantime, my sister brought back the remains of the ashes with her from the Isle of Wight and said “I just couldn’t stand having them look at me any longer it was making me so sad”.
Pah – I thought. I am unsentimental about these things, a bit of ash isn’t my mother and I’m not going to feel disconcerted by them. I put them on the window sill right next to my desk where I work most of the day and next to the lovely photo of her that we used in the order of service.
So that lasted about a day.
Apparently I am a tad more sentimental than I thought.
I hadn’t told Daniel I had the ashes as I wasn’t sure whether he would freak out at the thought. Children in my experience are simultaneously more sensitive and more single mindedly hard-headed than us fully grown folk and I wasn’t sure which side would emerge.
But what to do with them?
Shutting them away in a random cupboard seemed heartless (see – more sentimental than any accountant has a right to be) but I couldn’t bear looking at them. Then a brain wave – they’re rare but when they come, they’re good.
The most cherished thing I inherited from my mother was the bookcase her father made when he was 11. Long before she died or even before she knew she was ill, she asked all of us to pick something of her’s that we would like so that it could be earmarked. Mostly the jewellery was understandably spoken for for but my mother was touched when I said I wanted granddad’s bookcase. It has no real value, but it’s a beautifully made piece by a boy who became the man who adored my mother and subsequently us too. He was also the man who became the carpenter who made me a bedroom set for my Cindy which is long gone but the skill shown in the bookcase is obvious even at such a young age.
It’s a small glass fronted cabinet in which I put a few of the more sentimental items I kept of my mother’s – the really awful hedgehog she made in pottery classes in the late 70’s which to my joy when we cleared her flat I discovered she had kept; the glasses I’d bought her over the years until she had a full set of crystal; what was left of the glasses bought for her parents as a wedding present.
And her ashes.
I was happy with my choice – her father would look after her in his bookcase as he did in life until the time we had to let the last of her physical presence go completely.
I suppose I did find a bit of my happiness after all – I learnt that happiness doesn’t always feel happy, sometimes it just feels right.