Friday, August 05, 2011

The Empty Chair

After Mammy died we decided that we would not be in too much of a hurry to dispose of her possessions. We all felt that we needed some breathing space.

But eventually, we knew it would have to be done.

In this past week a great deal has been done. A great deal still remains to be done but the task has been started.

Kerry Sister has been here for a week and she has worked hard. She left this morning. This afternoon I was baby sitting and called out 'home' to say some sort of a goodbye and while Miss Martha slept, I wept and wept. A lot of tears have been shed in Matty's house this past week.

My parents built that house nearly forty years ago and they hadn't a whole lot of money to do it with so, when the time came to fit and furnish it, they had to make economies. As the years passed Matty replaced nearly all the original furniture with better pieces. These last few years she had it nearly the way she wanted it. I was with her a few years back when she bought her three piece suite and I remember thinking, 'that's going to outlast her'. We all encouraged her to improve the house because we knew how much pleasure she got out of it. The two youngest sisters were very handy and they built her kitchens and laid wooden floors. Every time they came home there would be a project, either woodwork or decorating or hanging new curtains. The young brother would be getting her to modernise her light fittings and overseeing the general maintenance. The rest of us would help out in other ways – maybe driving her around searching for the perfect thing or helping out with a few extra quid towards a new carpet or curtains. I'd get her plants for the garden and I wasn't the only one either.

She was still at it after the diagnosis of terminal cancer - a new back door in July 2010, the Leitrim sister re-upholstering stools and footstools for her. She was even re-organising the china in her corner cabinet from her bed when she couldn't get up.

So – with such a mother you can imagine how painful it has been to take her house apart. To even think about the removal from her home of all the nice furniture she waited so long for is hard. But it is the small things that scald my heart. Her slippers, her handbag, her toiletries and her address book. Her hand writing in this or that notebook. Her bedroom, with her matching wardrobe and chests of drawers and all the personal touches gone now. There are no clothes, no books, no holy pictures, no rosary beads – all that remains now are her embroidered slippers, her toilet bag and a cupboard full of empty hangers. And soon, very soon that will be gone too and Matty's house, our home place, will just be an empty shell.


Ronni said...

It's hard. Kind of a rite of passage, though. I still miss my mom, after 34 years, and I'm glad I wasn't there for the strike.

Andrea from Neath said...

I feel for you, having had to go through this for first my mum (who actually made us get rid of a load of her clutter from the wardrobe whilst she was ill in bed waiting the inevitable, to "give Daddy a bit more space at last"!) After my partner died suddenly 10 years ago my "outlaws" wanted me to give them all his things to keep, and they still have them . They even changed their phone so they could keep the old fashioned little cassette tape with his voice on it that he had done for them.

Nelly said...

It is hard Ronni but I feel that it will get easier. I dreamed about Matty last night and it made me very happy.

Andrea - did his people not leave you anything? Bereavement is a weird thing and makes people behave strangely sometimes.

Andrea from Neath said...

I know Nelly, I kept all the things we bought together, and many of his books, and was quite happy for them to have most of his other things. I have a dark sense of humour at the best of times and bereavements seem to bring out the worst in me - his Dad asked for his watch because to quote "you cant get nearer to a man that his watch" and I had to resist the impulse to say " well perhaps you'd like his y fronts in that case?"!

Nelly said...

That is dark. Funny dark.