Monday, 20 May 2013

Legacy

Today the Vicar conducted his mother's funeral. As a priest he followed her coffin reciting the promise of resurrection. As a son he spoke of how she would wipe his face with a spit-moistened hankie and accommodate his aversion to greens. And as priest and son he stood with his hand on the coffin and committed his mother to the hereafter.

I gazed at the wooden box that contained the woman who had borne and raised and nurtured and enervated him and I tried to fathom four decades of maternity nailed inside. Then I thought of myself similarly extinguished one day in a casket of pine. And now, suddenly, the mopping of spattered ketchup, the quelling of childish brawls, the tedium of times-tables and the hours on school sports fields seem sacred rituals.

Motherhood is a privilege I too often take for granted. And, equally often, I fear I don't measure up. But, as the Vicar recalls his boyhood, I realise that it does not require glamorous heroics or conspicuous sacrifices. It's the unremarkable routines and the sum of daily gestures that build the legacy. And so, remembering the son bowed over his mother's remains, I vow to shed useless worries about the future and to celebrate the monotony of domestic life. Instead of fretting over school grades and processed foods, I mean to deserve my children by reliably, if imperfectly, Being There, whether in flesh or, when my own time comes, in memory.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Loss

The prompt for this week's 100-word challenge at Julia's Place is Parting is such sweet sorrow. Yesterday we heard that my mother-in-law had suffered a brain haemorrhage. She is in a coma and will not live. 

Parting is such sweet sorrow. So they say. But where, I wonder, is the sweetness? Where, in the body on the bed, is the person that once vitalised it? Where is the lifetime of memories? What happens to the  hopes and the hates and the secrets when a mind closes down?
Back at home on his piano, the Vicar is painstakingly mastering the tune that evokes a boyhood outing with his mother and, as the chords float upstairs, I realise that there is indeed a bitter sweetness to parting, for loss, with painful potency, defines the forgotten power of love.