On leaving memories behind

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I now have my mother’s ashes in a neat little box on my bookshelf, between Ralph Griffiths’s Principality of Wales in the Later Middle Ages and the skull of a medieval nun from Cambridge. It’s a very small box to hold so many memories. Going through her clothes and papers was an amazing experience and I need to write another chapter of her life with all the things she never told me.

My daughter’s boyfriend Sean Wolfendale (@KingWolfy) helped with some of the most difficult bits – all those shelves of handbags and scarves. We still haven’t tackled the top shelf with its old letters and boxes. Sean wrote some poems about the experience, and then about the funeral.

Ninety Nine Boxes

She was put into numerous boxes

And stacked on all the surfaces.

Facing her was an eventuality

That they took on all at once

Before she became a permanent resident.

Picking her apart paper and page,

Evidence of her history and times,

Left over medicines and memories

That are ordered and divided

For decided removal

To provide some order

In a future without her.

Ninety Nine Bags

We dug through handbags,

Far too many for regular use

With some even retaining tags.

I was a poor man’s Indy

Digging out bric-a-brac,

Being attacked by fluff and mould.

An abundance of used tissues

And nail files hidden in folds,

I boldly dug deep to discover,

She was who we knew,

But from these things I take it,

Ready for runny noses and prison breaks.

Ninety Nine Pages

When the archive is explored

I’ve found an abundance of notes

That are bound by moments in time.

This letter! A first-hand account

Of the mounting tension lived

Before bombardments in World War 2.

But despite diamonds hidden in compartments,

For every gold filled memory

Is an old bill or drivers licence,

Empty envelopes that have lost their worth

And could we only stand the cold

They would not turn to firewood.

Ninety Nine Steps

She’s been resting for days now

This near centurion we’ve carried

Through fire and across fields

Through storms of feelings and tears

To a place where the wind is strong

And she can be released.

As our march comes to an end

And the blend of sieges upon our hearts

And honours upon our shoulders

Only bolden our movement to the future,

Whatever it might be that will harry us,

Through it she will carry us.

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