The Past Tense

One of the things that I find hard to remember, even almost 8 weeks after Mum died, is to use the past tense: I wanted to write that she has a safe in her house, but then I changed it to had and then I got myself in a pickle. When I call people like her credit card company yesterday, they asked my  relationship towards Mum and I explain that I am her daughter, then I correct it to I was her daughter and then I get upset as I will always be her daughter, whether she is alive or not. Perhaps I am overthinking my use of language, but it is something odd that I still struggle with. Maybe it is because I am trying to override 52 years worth of language when referring to Mum and that is difficult to do. I can recall when I was first married, after being together for 13 years, I found it awkward and intuitive to call him my husband, as this was not a word I had ever used.

Mum has a safe in her house but we did not know the combination ; we have been trying to open iton each visit to the house, having three attempts before it locked us out. We were not sure what might be in there but the solicitor advised us to employ a locksmith to get access to the contents, whatever they might be. So after my meeting nearby yesterday, I went back to Mum’s house where I met the locksmith. He tried to pick the lock and then finally, he drilled it out. He called me upstairs to open the safe and we found lots of documents hidden away in there : Mum’s missing passport, every PIN number she had been sent by the bank, her senior railcard, a wax seal and  a silver £5 coin. So that was a relief that it was not empty and the mystery was solved.

I then began to look in a few drawers that I had never looked in before and I became lost in old photographs and a lovely poem that my sister had written to our parents thanking them for the childcare support that they provided for my young niece. I spent ages engrossed, sitting on the landing floor, reading Mum’s progress book, and reviewing gorgeous black and white photographs of her  growing up. Then I found some pictures of me and my sister, where, apparently, we look like our children. This trip down memory lane gave me a real sense of family and of time moving on. I saw in photographs, that our grandparents and parents had now gone, that my sister and I were now head of our family and that our offspring were the future. Mum had done all that she could to prepare us for this time by clever financial planning, by leaving her paperwork in order and by de-cluttering her house as much as she could, so now it is over to us to do the right things as she would have done.

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