Not Wanting To Be Right – But Not Being Wrong

I Don’t Want To Be Right But I’m Not Wrong – I Think

Just a short one really. It’s about things – actual things, real things. Oh and it is also about people, real people. Even more so, it’s about things (real things) that belonged to other people – real people.

You see, a person might pass away. They will certainly go from our present daily experiences. And they might not share our physical lives anymore. But there will be things. Things left behind. Traces (they call them).

Commonly the things that are left behind are treated as detritus (although they are not all so). Some things after a bereavement are treated as valuable. Some are even fought over – although hopefully, the testatrix or testator will have made it clear what is to go to whom and when. (“And the value of the parrot is…?”)

In the light of all this I offer the following:-

When my own Mother and Father had died, it became clear that the house that they had made their home for sixty two years was full of things. [A little character sketch might divert here a moment – for, while (on the one hand) my father was given to buying of anyone all manner of goods that he could not bear to see discarded, my mother (on the other hand) would regularly light garden bonfires and much that had annoyed her or offended her (were it combustible) would end up consigned to the flames…]

But Father went first and Mother retreated to live in two and a half rooms. Little ischaemic episodes and natural propensities contrived to rob her of several aspects of tolerance (always slim) and dignity (always strong) and she began to remove things from the house and throw them away (there would only be one more fire in which my mother took any part). As the time neared for her to be removed to permanent care, we siblings began to explore the hitherto hidden recesses of our parents’ respective interests and subconscious. Let me tell you that I was shocked.

I can’t really put into writing some of the comments that were passed on those days – for one thing, this blog does not possess a “swear bleeper” – but I thought it was funny and I laughed until I realised the limited extent of my mother’s former purges and the full extent of my father’s attempt to cram the whole of Mather and Platt’s engineering works Ltd into the loft of a four bedroomed semi-detached house in a small town.

But I promised to be short, and I will be. What I want to say is this: Whatever it is that you see, take it and store it. There will come one day when you or your siblings really do want to put hands on something that belonged to your father or mother. If one of the siblings is just in a “get rid of it” mood, then don’t listen. That very one will come back and ask you “Could you just say where the (xyz or 123) went?” Of course, if you kept it, you can supply the thing that will fulfil the need.

And the need? Well, some twenty years ago, I was at the town tip or dump. I noticed a man who was struggling with shelves and a washing up bowl. I asked him about the shelves as they were nice. They had been made with care and probably for a kitchen. “What are you doing with that?” I asked. “It was my mother’s” he told me, “and now the house has to be emptied. I’ve got these butter knives and a couple of teaspoons and a washing up bowl too”. It was quite touching. He didn’t want to throw them in the skip (dumpster) and he didn’t know what to do with them either, and he was an only child. “Are you sure that you don’t want them?” I asked. “Well, I suppose they have to go”. So I said “Well give them to me then” and he agreed. I gave him one penny for the knives (old superstitions die slowly) and I put them and the shelves in my car.

Now it is twenty years later, and the shelves are still here. So are the knives. And they are in every day use. And they have been very useful. And if Mr Man had asked for them back, or just to see them, then he could still – and with pleasure. For sometimes, like I told my brother, you might want to throw it away now, but one day, you might also just want to touch some thing that your father or mother had held.

So don’t be too hasty.

And that is life.

And grief.

And closure.


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