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Monday, 19 October 2009

Death and the maiden


When my mother died one of her self confessed close friends asked if there was anything she could do to as she had loved my mother so much.
“Well you could help me prepare food for after the funeral”, I suggested. How was I to know her comments were rhetorical? At least she had the grace to stay away from the funeral.

Another woman, a relative, earned my eternal anger both before and after my mother’s death. When the latter lay dying, our relative asked her whether she had confessed her sins. Otherwise she would go to Hell. In my view, my relative compounded her own sins by writing me a maudlin letter after my mother’s death, telling me she would soon be joining her. In the event, she made “old bones” and died many years later in her 80s unlike my mother, who died in her 50s.

I was worried that no-one would turn up for my mother’ funeral. Thankfully, many of her former colleagues were able to come along. At the end of the funeral they lined up to offer their condolences to me, something I had not anticipated. It was difficult to remain composed until I had spoken to and thanked them all individually. Later, after I had said goodbye to the last of the guests at my mother’ house, a male friend took me out in the car for a ride to clear my head and another female friend met in central London for a meal. As I returned home I met a work colleague on the station platform. I asked her how she was. She cheerily told me and then asked what I had been doing all day.
“ Burying my mother,” I replied lugubriously.
As she said later, at that moment she wanted the ground to open up and swallow her too.

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