I'm going to Palmerston North today to help my sisters pack my Dad up and into his new place. He's leaving the home he spent the last years in with Mum. Most of my mother's things will be distributed amongst us six kids. Dad doesn't have room for it all. I am happy for my Dad. He wants and needs to move on - he feels her absence too keenly there.
It will be strange though, to no longer have a place to go back to which is full of my mother's things. She loved her things. My parents have moved around a lot in their lives, so we as a family don't have a family home as such. What I didn't realise until now is that my mother's things were our family home. She was like a turtle and carried what mattered to her with her wherever she went. But as I said to one of my sisters, she no longer needs them now.
When I was child - maybe eight - my great grandmother gave Mum and Dad some money. With it Mum chose to get a whole series of Pears Soap adverts framed. They were there on the wall as I played games in the wide hallway of my childhood. As I skipped and bounced balls and ran my hands over the big old-fashioned brass telephone I was fascinated by, felt the texture of the telephone table beneath it.
I'm not a big "things" person. I don't keep a helluva lot in my house, aside from photographs and artwork and notes the people I love write to me. Mum had style and her things worked beautifully in the spaces she inhabited, but I don't need her stuff for myself. Her things represent her life, not mine.
Instead, I made this photograph. It has her in it, her love of this print, and it also has me. And my Dad and our family and our life together too. This boy with his bubbles has been there through thick and thin. If only he could talk! The loud fierce arguments, the everyday living, the big loud love.
I'm going to make a beautiful print of this, frame it.
Then I can look at it and and picture my parents and their private life together, see them sitting beside eachother in their beige lazyboys watching Masterchef or league, hear Mum telling Dad off for spilling his dinner on his tshirt, hear Dad singing a line in his no-tune voice to her because it irritated her, and because he loved her and it was his clumsy shy way of showing it. 61 years living life beside eachother and as Dad says, they're still together now.
Wish me luck for today. Even though I'm feeling strong and have this photograph to keep me that way, it's not going to be easy, taking it all down.