This might be a long one guys (and you might want to grab a Kleenex). After all it IS about mum and it IS the last one of 2012 and it IS the first one since mum died, and it IS and it IS and it IS… so much so that I think it best to write it in parts.
Mum died on the morning of Wednesday, 19th December 2012. My mobile rang at 8.30 and it was Grace – an amazing nurse at St Anthony’s Care Home in Nicosia. “Come quickly”. “Is she dying?” “Yes”. It was early and I was still slobbing around in my pyjamas. I’d been on tenterhooks every time the phone rang for the past few weeks and so I went into mini panic mode, rushing around, pulling clothes on top of my pyjamas, looking for my car keys, calling Mario (my brother) to come too and trying to calm the thumping feeling in my chest. I got to the home within 20 minutes of the call but was just too late… mum had gone.
When I arrived Grace was with mum, along with two nuns who looked for all the world like a couple of sad and droopy owls from of a Disney movie. I shooed them all out and spent a little time alone with mum in her warm room, with the sun streaming in and shining its light on the twinkling Christmas tree and the family photos dotted around. This time her chest was motionless and I recalled the many times I had stared intently to see if the bedclothes were rising and falling. It was peaceful and I said my goodbye to lovely Nina - at rest and out of pain finally.
Later, on the same day, after the doctor had made his final examination, after mum had been taken to her temporary resting place and after Mario had gone back home, I returned to mum’s room to clear out her things. As I took down the photo of my father I remembered the many times I’d kissed it in front of mum, telling her that “Dad says I have to give you a kiss”. The beaming smile on mum’s face was priceless. A couple of weeks earlier I’d told mum “Dad says he’s bought you a sexy nightie for Christmas and you’ve got to wear it for him” and she’d laughed – one of her better days I think!
So I took down all the pictures and emptied the drawers and cupboards of the remnants of her life that remained… and the memories came flooding back. The clock that earlier in the year had given up the ghost, refusing to tick any more; the antique mirror that had graced her homes in Duffield, Anthoupolis and finally her home at St Anthony’s and the reproduction furniture that had followed mum from Nottingham to Derbyshire and then to their final resting place here in Cyprus. There were several manky handbags one of which still had dried sandwich remains in it – she used to attend a day centre and was in the habit of wrapping her sandwich in a napkin; I recall regularly tipping out the sandwiches and ants and telling my mum “I’ve run out of food at home mum, can I take the sandwiches please?”
In one of the drawers I found her crochet hooks and cotton. Mum’s second favourite pastime had left mum with a crooked index finger and her children with the most beautiful crocheted tablecloths and bedspreads. In the same drawer I found a lighter and I unearthed the ashtray from the bottom of a wardrobe - relics of her first favourite pastime. The aroma of mum’s presence was all around me as I folded away the size 6-10 dresses, skirts and tops and her size 3-4 shoes and slippers and I wondered at how such a massive personality could have accommodated such a tiny being… she was like Dr Who’s Tardis I thought
In the bathroom I found her teeth, still shiny from their unfortunate and accidental hot-wash in the laundrette. She’d not worn them for several weeks as she hadn’t the strength to put them in and out and when we tried to do it for her she’d inadvertently bite us.
Before I left for home I’d noticed an amazing electric storm of sheet lightening over the mountains in the distance. I beckoned Grace to come and see. “It’s beautiful” said Grace, “What is happening?” she asked. “It’s a party” I replied “They’re having a party in the sky, with fireworks, for my mum.” Later on Mario told me that the music playing in his car while he was driving to the home that morning was “Spirit in the Sky”.
We know where you are mum.
To be continued……………