An awful lot has happened in my life since I last sat down to write a blog post.
To be precise, my wonderful, amazing, strong, determined mother passed away on Friday 11th December, aged 64 years.
It was not unexpected. She’d been in the local hospice for some weeks, where it was increasingly obvious that her body, which for so long had battled on despite major illness and disability, was worn out. She knew the end was coming; my brother and I knew the end was coming. The hospice looked after her beautifully, kindly, with great dignity and compassion, but medically there was no more that could be done.
My brother and I were both with her, which is a blessing so many people have been denied this year. I am very conscious of that – and conscious, too, of how incredible the hospice was. I wanted one more Christmas with her, so we asked the hospice chef how we could arrange that – and he cooked us a roast turkey dinner, with all the trimmings. We had a little Christmas tree – a live one. We put fairy lights up and I bought crackers, so we all had paper hats. Mum even ordered us presents!! So not the point, Mum. But there you go. That was her.
Most of you, I think, are aware that Mum and I lived together. In one stroke, I’ve lost my mum, my best friend and my housemate. I don’t think reality has fully sunk in yet; it feels like she’s just in hospital still, and will be home soon. There’s so much to do, as well, which in a funny way is helpful. I’m keeping busy because I have to keep busy. There’s stuff that doesn’t have to be done yet, like this blog post, but I want to, because time stretches out in funny ways when I don’t have the next job lined up, the next phone call or email or decision.
She taught me how to crochet. Not much – chain stitch, single crochet, double crochet. I learned more elsewhere. But she started me on the journey. And she encouraged me to design. She supported me, helped me, laughed at me when I ripped things out because it wasn’t ‘right’, and she was so, so proud of everything I accomplished. She was the only reason I began experimenting with freeform crochet, with The Starry Night. That was her Christmas present, a few years ago. It’s hanging in the living room now, and I can look up at it and remember how she just kept saying ‘wow’. I look at ‘Kaleidoscope’ and remember us choosing the alternate colourways together. The key square in the centre of ‘The Secret Garden’ was her idea. She is knotted in to all of my work.
It feels unendingly awful that she won’t see any more of my designs, or even just any other projects I do.
But at the same time, I will carry her with me for the rest of my life. I know that. She is with me because she is part of me, and always will be.
It’s going to be a strange Christmas. My brother is staying with me at least until the new year, and probably longer, but we both feel we’ve had our Christmas already. I have a tree, and we’ll have a small roast dinner (because his roast potatoes are divine and I refuse to skip them!), but I think mostly we’ll just curl up and watch Christmas telly. We have lots of friends and neighbours rallying around us – which so far means two chocolate cakes, flapjack, a butternut squash wellington, a raspberry crumble, and some lovely, lovely cards from Mum’s Quaker Meeting. We’re not going to be alone if we don’t want to be. Obviously social distancing is still necessary (my brother is immuno-compromised and I have ME; neither of us want covid) but we’ll figure it out.
I want to finish this post by showing you a photo. It’s of a plaster cast that we made in the hospice with a lady who does art therapy there, with their day patients and palliative patients. Me and my brother, holding Mum’s hand. It was a really lovely idea, and it’s a really lovely thing to have. I’m so glad of it.
She’ll be holding my hand forever. My brilliant mum.