It would be about now at this time in the evening, 24 years ago, that my mother died in Lynton Cottage Hospital, Devon. She was alone; the nurses off doing their rounds the local nuns not yet arrived. (They make it part of their service to sit with those close to death). My father and I had left her after our evening visit, we had to get on with making the Christmas cake. Even in the face of imminent death it was important to keep up the cake baking tradition. ‘Look after daddy’! she had said a few days earlier. I replied, ‘Well I think he can look after himself! and ‘Yes, I’ll make sure he’s OK’. And he was OK, living on for five more years.
First thing this morning I left a short post on Facebook saying it was the anniversary of my mother’s death and that I was sad I’d not appreciated her more fully during her life. (Thanks to all who left long and thoughtful comments as well as those who simple ‘liked’.) You think your parents will live for ever don’t you. But they don’t. Sooner or later they pass on and I doubt if there are many people who say all they want and need to say to those who die. Suddenly or slowly our all too mortal selves slide off, leaving those who remain to deal with ‘business’. Legal business and spiritual business. Registering her death my dad and I spelt her maiden name incorrectly and struggled to decide which first name to use. My father’s family ‘renamed’ her as they didn’t like her actual name. We registered her original name and that is what my father engraved on her head stone too. She rests, or rather her remains, rest in the cemetery here at Throssel. I buried her, she had a Buddhist funeral, my dad dug the grave.
But it isn’t too late to express what one needs to express even years after a death. Adrienne wrote in her comment on Facebook that she had written a letter to her mother after her death and then later burnt it in the cleansing flames of a ceremonial fire. I will think about writing a letter of appreciation and put it on my altar for a while. Did she make her mark in the world? Yes. In a small side garden in the Nation Trust, Wesbury Court Garden in Gloscester there is an Aquileia, a deep purple one, donated by Mrs. White of Hewelsfield. She knew the gardener there and somehow this plant was rare. Sad to say I don’t know why. She was of a rare breed herself.