Dad and Sandy have been busily sorting through stuff at Dad's, getting ready for new flooring in November. They had a pile of poetry books for me to sort through and Mam's collection of bells to take. When I visited, Dad was pale and weak and shaky.
"I don't think your dad's feeling well today," Sandy whispered to me. "He keeps going upstairs."
I made a cuppa. So British. No one else wanted one. Some of the stuff for me to sort through was hard: a 2013 journal that Mam had been recording the daily weather in. The entries stopped on 7th October, the day Mam went into the hospital for the final time. I put in on the 'To bring home' pile.
In talking to me about the process of sorting, Dad began to cry...and went upstairs. I made another cuppa, this time for everyone and Sandy pulled some homemade peanut butter cookies from the freezer. We all took a break and sat and chatted. Later, I suggested to Dad that yes he needed to clear things but didn't necessarily need to sort them at such an emotionally hard level straightaway. He could clear in layers. When I left he seemed steadier on his feet and he had more colour in his face. And he seemed more at peace.
At home I sorted through the bells that Sandy had carefully wrapped in paper. I found the one I was looking for--the one that started Mam's whole bell collection. I had thought it was brass, but it looks more like copper. It is a lovely light-sounding bell that Jean, the eldest of Mam's sisters, gave to Mam when Mam was leaving Britain to come and live in Canada.
Jean had said, "If you need me, just ring."
I imagine there were many lonely hours when Mam wished time zones didn't exist and it was really that simple. But at some point the sisters developed a weekly phone chat habit. To this day, Dad continues that habit with Shelagh, the remaining sister.
When Jean visited Canada some years later, I know another bell was exchanged--a brass one with a carved squirrel on top. Whether Mam bought this one for Jean or vice versa I'm not sure. The squirrel represented all the squirrels in our yard. I haven't run across this one yet so perhaps it was for Jean and she took it home to Britain. I'll check with my cousins.
A delightful discovery in amongst some linens was a sepia-toned photo of my Grandpa Boag, Mam's dad. He died when Mam was 14 or 15 so I never knew him but this photo sat on my Nanna's bedside table all through the years. And Nanna lived with us for 15 years before she had to move out on her own when Mam and Dad emigrated. So to receive this photo thrilled me no end. Like bringing a piece of my childhood home to my present home. I didn't know Mam had it and for some reason I don't think she did either as she had gone back to Britain for Nanna's funeral hoping to find the photo. Perhaps someone tucked it into some tea towels but forgot to mention it to her? I intend to find a lovely photo of my Nanna as a young woman that I have and put the two photos together.
Welcome! I'm Sue Blott: a writer of all things, a poet at heart, mom, wife, daughter, step-mom, grandma, tea drinker, tai chi-er, mystic, artist, dreamer...and now a blogger! This is my world.