A Melancholic Landmark

It played out one year ago….. 12 months…… 365 days….. Events ensuring, irrespective of future occurrences on that date, 3rd October will remain indelibly tainted within the family as being the calendar juncture of my mums passing.

The familial matriarch’s protracted 2021 demise playing out in an Ossett care home; the final dark proceedings witnessed by my siblings Ian, Helen and myself. A fateful day whose stark sights have frequented my conscious mind on several occasions in those post death months.

As my partner Sarah lives a mere two hundred metres from the melancholic episode’s scene, I guess it’s not too surprising visiting her gaff can trigger melancholic manifestations of my mum’s final moments…… For the record, my squeeze’s close proximity to mater’s place of expiry is purely coincidental.

Things have certainly changed for yours truly since Maggie took her final shallow breath as dawn rose on that sunny early autumn morn last October. Mum’s life denouement taking on almost mystical qualities when she gave Ian, Helen and me a last smile upon leaving us.

Her face taking on a porcelain look; once again resembling the twenty-something woman who bore the three of us over half a century ago. The pain borne during a dreadful 2021, which saw her suffer a stroke, a dementia diagnosis and the aggressive cancer nodes which ultimately took her, no more.

The romantic in me hoping she’d gone to join dad, who left us in October 2017. The old man’s delight at being joined by his beloved wife of over 57 years no doubt slightly tinged by the fact his merlot consumption would once again come under spousal scrutiny.

A few days prior to the anniversary of Maggie’s passing, while nosing over a perimeter hedge during strolling with Sarah’s dogs Zella and Deano,, I caught sight of the very care home room mum passed in.

I’m unsure why but, like a rubber necking driver at a motoring incident, I couldn’t stop myself from momentarily gawping at the window which almost year ago I spent numerous hours looking through in the opposite direction.

Viewing the scene which’d witnessed one of my worst existential moments raising the hairs on my neck…. A fate my back follicles would’ve no doubt mimicked had Sarah not shorn them a week earlier, prior to my recent trip to Portugal.

As alluded to above, a lot has changed in my life since witnessing mater’s final moments that harrowing Sunday morning.

Some would posit that such life changes would be expected after the death of a parent; which’d be a fair enough observation. What’s surprised me, though, is the actual new pastimes/life strategies I’ve embraced since she passed. Habits and new amours which I’d never have predicted would interest me as the year 2021 headed towards it dusk.

For instance, if within hours of Maggie’s departure, a soothsayer had informed me “In twelve months you’ll rent an apartment in Wakefield City Centre, own a camper van and date someone who could quote the full cocktail menu (including prices) of every West Yorkshire bar!”, I’d have poo-pooed the suggestion as extremely unlikely….. Well, actually I might’ve believed the cocktail prediction.

Footnote – With them never saying the word sooth, I might also ask the soothsayer how the heck they get their baffling job title.

I can’t speak for my siblings, but I feel these new directions I’m taking in the year since Maggie’s passing are mum’s doing. I’d like to think they’re her way of guiding me onto a path towards the fulfilment I’ve thus far found so difficult to attain.

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