Leave taking

I felt a need to write in response to this prompt. “Describe the circumstances and emotions of your hardest departure from family.” 

I had driven over to my dad’s place with my youngest son  It had been several months since dad died.  My brother was sole executor of the Will and had rushed the proceedings through while the rest of us were still coming to terms with what was happening.   He’d somehow managed to buy the place and pay out our shares so the house now was his, not mum and dad’s place.  All that remained was to collect the bits and pieces he’d divvied up as our share of the family possessions.

My brother supervised the loading of my car.   I didn’t really know why I’d even bothered coming over.   It all felt so sordid – so utterly grubby.  All the misunderstandings and miscommunications that had gone down when dad was dying.   All those torrid terrible years when he ranted and raved in the Nursing Home.   His personality had disintegrated as his dementia advanced.   He’d always been a strong and opinionated man.   As his illness progressed it was as if those qualities were distilled down into a loud and implacable rage.    He’d forgotten who I was several years before.

Prior to that my mum had died a slow and tragic death from Parkinson’s disease.    It had broken my dad.     He’d never sorted out her possessions.   Now they were apparently owned by my brother.   Old raincoats and the stained white jumper dad had worn when he went bowling hung in dusty wardrobes with wonky doors alongside what remained of mum’s paintings – the ones that hadn’t sold – the near misses and the failures no one wanted.   Cupboards still housed the chipped plates and scattered remnants of household goods that had been inherited from forgotten ancestors.  Somewhere a few old photos were hidden away in tattered boxes.

Overseeing the loading of my car my brother was bombastic and acted like the Lord of Manor although the house was really just a holiday shack mum and dad had bought on retirement.   As we said goodbye I noticed a greenish mould growing on the shady walls that faced seaward.   My brother’s problem now.

I grabbed a moment and rushed back to the shed on some pretext.   A place of happy memories – dad sorting through his own dad’s old tools and giving my sons some strange object from times past –  the old wooden handles polished from use and brass fittings glowing softly in the dim light.

Suddenly it hit me.   I was not likely to come back.  At least for a good long while. My brother was already staking claims of ownership as he talked of remodeling the downstairs living room.   It was his place now and he wanted to put his stamp on it as he described it in his bullying way.

I raised my camera and photographed the broken chairs hanging from the roof.  I remembered them once standing proud and strong in the family home we’d grown up in.    Like the rest of us they now bore the scars of the difficult years that followed.

old chairs with noise.jpg

That was nearly ten years ago.   Much of the stuff I collected that day proved to be too hard to have around – bad memories of my father’s anger, my mother’s bipolar mood swings.  The few things I’ve hung on to are from my own grandparents.   People my children never knew.   They are curious.   “What was this grandmother’s name?” they ask.   “What was she like?”    An interest in the family tree has emerged.   I recall old photos and family letters.   “We must go there and record these things?” they say.  Tentatively we plan a date later in the year when we will do just that.   Although I see the sense in it and can see that my kids are seeking some kind of closure I’m not looking forward to it.   Sometimes the need for healing takes us to difficult places.

36 thoughts on “Leave taking

      1. Yes, I think that these outer events do parallel the inner journey. Since writing that yesterday I’ve been thinking a lot about foundations – in the outer world, spiritually and, since reading your latest post, energetically.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Thank you for sharing this difficult revisiting, and the complexity it evoked then, and still does now. I suspect it would speak to many, in different levels, and the layers of grief, pain, and recognition that so often accompany sorting through the past.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Strange how that prompt led to such a personal disclosure. I deliberated whether to share it or not but then did in the end for some kind of closure. You are right, it does seem to speak to others.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can understand the pain and frustration. For us it’s the opposite, mum’s house has still not sold, more than two years after has passing My sister is tied to the past. It’s hard times.

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    1. I don’t know which would be worse. Having the past linger like that or having it abruptly taken away. Either way – grief does strange things to people. I hope you get some resolution this year too.

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  3. Pingback: Dashing | Daily Inkling – Normal Happenings

  4. I can see why this was hard to write. The loss of parents getting entangled with sibling antipathy. All those things to sort through and rake over. Ten years isn’t long enough to get over all that. I doubt you ever will. Not that that should be a bad thing. If we didn’t have strong emotions we’d only be half alive.

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    1. That’s true. These kind of experiences do create some big changes in their wake. Thanks for noting that ten years isn’t really long enough. Writing it I was wondering why it had taken me so long to do so.


      1. In my case, I think it was a feeling of guilt, at not appreciating my mother enough that made her sudden leaving so difficult to get over. She died when I was still in the throes of bringing up small children and coping with a mysterious illness. I had so much on my plate I didn’t notice how attentive and thoughtful she was. The guilt hasn’t gone away, but at least I can look it in the eye now.

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      2. Yes guilt does play a part in all of this. My behaviour towards my brother wasn’t always exemplary. I realise now he was dealing with some very difficult personal issues in his own life. I think looking guilt in the eye is something I am in the process of doing too.
        Parents do seem to die at inconvenient times. I had chronic fatigue syndrome when dad died. Everything I did happened through a dense fog. My emotions were frayed too.
        Life is a complicated business, that’s for sure.


      3. That’s so true. This guilt that lingers can be painful. I guess it’s one of those aspects of life we wrestle with until we find some kind of higher absolution. Sometimes it’s as a simple as ‘I did the best I could at the time’. Not much salvation in that way of thinking but sometimes that has to be enough.


  5. It’s always been people with me and not the place. My mother went through this when she inherited the 200 year old house that held all her memories. Except she came to realize that the house was nothing without the people she had shared it with.

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