In the shadows

This morning I woke up with my mother. She died two years ago, in May, but this morning I was with her, and when I opened my eyes the longing was intense, and I felt again that detachment from reality that was with me for so long, two years ago, and the presence of the shadows. I wanted to give her something I know she would like.

Rose in Greenwich Park

Scattering ashes

Last week, one year ago, we scattered my mother’s ashes in a place which she loved. But those words don’t seem quite right. They make the action sound trivial, like throwing something away.

It was high up, the wind swirled and took the ashes, some touched us, and then there was silence. And I felt a release, a smile, and a travelling. The soughing of the wind again, never to be forgotten.

Yesterday, as I sat in St Mary le Strand, I remembered in the blue light, and then I lit two candles for my sister and me.

St Mary le Strand
St Mary le Strand

The soughing of the wind

My mother woke me this morning. I didn’t open my eyes, I just lay still, and remembered the sound of her voice, and her scent. She came in the moment a year ago when we scattered her ashes – the wind swirled and soughed, and then it was silent. I sensed release, escape, peace. The church says ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’ but it didn’t feel like that and today I remember it also says ‘in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life’ and I wonder if it could be true. My mother certainly believed it.

She loved flowers and today I send her some roses from the garden.

Canary Bird


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis week last year I was on my hands and knees, scrubbing an old lady’s house, when I heard that my mother had had a stroke. It was very stormy and I couldn’t travel for a day, and then, because I knew it was serious, I tidied up my affairs before taking the long journey to South Africa.

Looking back, I see that my mother consciously and actively decided to go on a journey, to die. She tidied her house and gave away her belongings, and she withdrew from people. She didn’t stop talking or become silent, but her conversation was more and more about the past, and she became an observer of the present, rather than a participant. She remembered her life, the happiness, not the sadness. I once heard her say that the most joyous day of her life was her wedding day – how I envied her – and she often spoke of my father. She spoke of her parents too, and a childhood that must have been carefree.

I miss her, but I remember her courage in taking that last journey, and I know I must find the strength to live through the next two weeks, as I remember.

A Gift of $5,000,000

The Daily Post Challenge is what to do with a gift of $5,000,000 which has to be given away. Well, that is easy!

I would set up a charity to which I would give the money. The money would be invested and would go on supporting the aims of the charity in perpetuity.

The charity would be educational. It would support very talented young musicians,  and it would educate school children, young adults, and the general public in the delights of music. It would also support very talented young writers and poets.

I would also leave all my own possessions to the charity on my death, and I would, during my life, encourage like-minded people to join me in creating a sizable educational foundation which supports music and writing.



I am nervous about facing the next weeks. I returned to South Africa on 29 April last year, and my mother died on 5 May, at 3.45pm. I have flashbacks when I remember that last week in vivid detail – I don’t think one ever achieves ‘closure’, whatever that may mean. I think I am managing but then I see a photograph, or something from her home, and I remember. Death is so silent.

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela is 94 and half years old, his birthday is 18 July 1918. My father saw him, and heard him, before he was imprisoned and said he was compelling, charismatic, unforgettable. My mother died in May last year and spoke of him. And now he is ‘going home’. The news says he is ‘responding positively’ to treatment, but he is dying, or in the words of Jacob Zuma, he is ‘going home’. I remember the last week with my mother – it was a ‘going home’, back to her parents, her childhood, and my father.  But not ‘going back’, rather ‘going on’, going home’. How can we feel sad? But we do.

Britten Cello Suite no.3

Yesterday I heard Britten’s Cello Suite no.3 in the freezing cold of St Edmunds Church in Southwold. The single cello notes sang out, above a low, plucked string, and outside the wind suddenly moved through the trees – a  duet against a beat of time passing.

Ah, the soughing of the wind – I had forgotten the word. The music and the wind find one’s heart, I think, and touch the loneliness. But it is temptation from a ghost, you ache, but you can’t reach out and touch.

Thank you Sasho, it was unforgettable.