There is a two-fold thing happening in my life right now. I’m taking photographs of my mam. Forever photos. She’s 88 on Monday. How much longer will she live? Who knows. Life is strange like that. We can’t predict what is going to happen. Or how long we will live. There is a sense of urgency to it too. A kind of capturing memories for when the inevitable happens. A last chance to make someone last forever. When she goes I will lose a connection, a connection to a past that I came from. That is a scary concept. To have one parent is hard, but to have none. Well it doesn’t bear thinking about. Who will I ask about the past, who will tell me the tales that she keeps hidden. So now I take photographs. Of a life once lived. A life that once danced and laughed. A life that once experienced but now sits and waits.
And the two-fold thing……. Well I’ve been researching the family tree for my mam. On the maternal side. Trying to find out, for my mam, where her grandmother and grandfather came from. And I’ve succeeded. I’ve got answers for her. Surprising answers too. My mam never knew her grandparents on her mothers side. I sense, a tale, of sadness, of rejection somewhere there. My mam is very protective of her mother, was very protective. Still is, of her memory. I sense a story there. A sad story, one which I will gently capture. Things start to make sense. Things from my childhood make sense. Injustices, betrayals, rejection. Answers, answers, answers, please. But they will come. Slowly, and gently.
My mum is growing old and it is painful to watch. When did this happen, when did I suddenly stop being the little girl and grow into this adult that watches with sadness as she grows weary.
She is 87 and lives alone, refuses to move having lived in her house since 1970. She is lonely, my dad died nearly 20 years ago, and in between working I try and do as much as I can, spending my days off keeping her company. I take her shopping and we have occasional trips to the cinema. She clings to my arm as we take it slowly and she has to stop now and then to catch her breath. But the guilt that I’m not doing enough for her haunts me. And I am scared, very scared, of having to deal with the day that she is gone forever.
She fell recently, couldn’t get up. Thankfully she managed to pull the phone off the table and call me. And then it was a mad dash to get over there and get her off the floor. She was scared, scared that she was going to have to lie there all night. But we made her laugh and then we tucked her up in bed and kissed her goodnight. So now if she doesn’t answer the phone I worry, thinking she might have fallen again.
So I am now riddled with this overbearing guilt and a fear of losing her. And some days I wish that I could be that little girl again, that both my parents were around and I didn’t have a care in the world. And I wonder how it all suddenly changed, when did I become grown up and when did I stop relying on my mum and she instead started to rely on me.
Where once there were dreams in my head there is now just memories. And that’s what we cling to, the memories of when we were young and happy and nothing could touch us.