Thursday, December 30, 2010

Looking forwards, looking back

It's that time of year again, when the papers and tv are full of round-ups of the best/worst/most noteable happenings of the year.  A review is almost compulsory, and back here in St Albans, looking after my Dad, time hangs heavy, hot and loud.

I feel as though I have had very little time this year.  Reading "The Quest of the Overself" by Paul Brunton, I find that I should be ensuring I have at least half an hour for meditation every day.  I rarely achieve that, and so I am determined that I should try, now that things have become less pressured.

My stepmother died on New Year's Eve a year ago.  Her room is still full of her clothes and toiletries, and the living room is full of a pot of ashes.  My stepsister, her only daughter, hasn't felt able to deal with her mother's things, and my sisters and I have felt reluctant to interfere, or to upset her, by dealing with them ourselves.  She did ring up and insist that my father and sister should collect her mother's ashes during the mother's day weekend, but they have sat here untouched since then.

It's hard to know how to handle this reluctance to deal with things.  She wasn't our mother, and didn't attempt to be.  My father doesn't seem unduly morose in the run up to the anniversary.  His way of dealing with my stepmother's death was to take every picture from the albums they had built up and throw away any which didn't have her in them.  Thus he has an enormous pile of pictures all ripped from their context, of my stepmother smiling at the camera.

During her funeral, the officiant - I have no idea if he was a deacon, vicar or priest - referred to the "happy-go-lucky" personality of my stepmother... which occasioned a few puzzled expressions among the family, wondering who in their right minds might have used that phrase for her. 

The problem is, that there wasn't much to say about her, apart from the fact that she worked for ATV for a while.  She smoked, she talked, she ordered my father around, she complained, and she smoked some more.  By the end of her life she had given up smoking, stayed in bed all the time, and watched soaps on tv.  She seemed annoyed that people were interrupting her soap-watching when they came to see her.

Her daughter and granddaughters were the only people she was ever positive about.  Generally, she seemed content with her life, but not particularly happy or unhappy.  Certainly not happy-go-lucky.

Hopefully my stepsister will feel able to tackle her mother's possessions in due course.  It would certainly make life easier if there were space in the wardrobes and drawers for things to be.