When my mother died there were many many things left behind. I hated pretty much all of the time that I spent with my brother sifting through what I viewed at the time as the rubbish and wreckage of a decaying life.
For those who didn’t arrive at the start of my blogging career (which started not coincidentally shortly after her death) there was little love between us towards the end – and even my sense of duty to someone supposedly so close had long since faded.
My mother was like a magpie – constantly collecting shiny rubbish and nik-naks with little or no value and always seemed supremely adept at burying herself in meaningless trinkets from pound shops.
From an inheritance perspective (which I didn’t want) she left behind little more than a small sum of money and continual headache that seemed to last for months.
In some ways it never left me.
There was no real closure between us except that which I endeavoured to construct in my own mind after the event. However for all the pain it caused the act of emptying her bungalow was in some respects a huge cathartic release.
My brother and I threw much of its contents away – apart from the dolls, crockery and ornaments that seemed relatively new. They went to charity.
Most of what I ended up taking home with me I kept because I was too tired to decide what to do with anything any more. It sat filling my spare room for a long time before I eventually gave almost all of it away – in the hope that one day someone else would get some positive use out of it.
Some small things however I kept.
Photos for instance are obvious – memories like this are rarely discarded. Those didn’t require much thought. I don’t really want to look at them yet but they’re still in a drawer for a day when I might change my mind.
The things that meant the least to me at the time – but were silly to throw away were usable items like clothes pegs, washing powder, garden tools, and door hanging tidy pockets.
It used to endlessly irritate me that she wasted her money on things like this (there were multiples of everything and she didn’t need them) but as I sit in the garden today my clothes are drying on a washing line secured by her pegs.
On the inside handle of my back door is a foam knee pad for weeding. I’ve used that too. It’s useful.
Below the pad is usually a heavy red pair of suede gardening gloves, which I’ve used over and over again lately to pull nettles and thorny brambles out of my garden. They’ve saved me many an injury.
She was a practical woman from a working class background who valued tools and items that helped get a job done. When I put my hands into her old gloves I realise that quite unexpectedly they have begun to mean something to me.
Her hands used to fit inside them too, and she also used them to weed her garden like I do. All of a sudden we’re connected by such a trivial item and I’m taken aback by the rush of poignancy this brings.
It’s like I’m somehow holding her hand…
Oddly I’ve realised that this practical side of her – divorced from the emotional closeness that one expects from a mother (but that we never achieved between us in life) is what helps to make my thoughts of her fonder than they otherwise would have been.
I still can’t understand the complex nature of this troubled lady but I can attempt (every time I fall into the trap of anger about past events) to forgive her and try to remember the good things instead.
There’s no mileage in bitterness internet.
All I have to do is put her gloves on to feel some warmth.