It is 4 weeks today since my dad passed away. In many ways it has been too busy to allow the grieving process to progress in perhaps the way it should. Other than on the day of the funeral, I have not cried. I am not sure that this in itself is a problem. But, I know I am definitely feeling a bit more vulnerable and my moods swing a little more than usual. We all feel the loss of my dad keenly, and no one more so than my mum. But I find myself irritated by her and by her inability to see anyone else’s suffering.
We have always had a difficult relationship. She always put it down to the fact that our birthdays fall within a day of each other and that they are August (Leo) birthdays at that. I have always wondered however if she has just borne a grudge for the fact that she spent her 23rd birthday in labour! There have been times when she and I have struggled to communicate, to even be pleasant with each other. We have never had that close, almost sisters bond others seem to have. My grandmother, her mother, told me she was a selfish woman. Perhaps she is.
There were times during my dad’s illness when she seemed angry that he was the one who was ill. perhaps she always believed she would be first to go. In the weeks before his death she almost seemed to avoid him, my brothers and I discussed and wondered at this. At the end though, she was there every step and it was her who was holding his hand as he passed away.
So this weekend we have had the kind break that in the past she would have loved – just the two of us. A few years ago we would have been found drinking in the local bars, perhaps flirting a little. But we never had that kind of relationship. Now, sadly, not only is she newly bereaved but she is also a shadow of the fun loving person she once was. She struggles to get around (a legacy of a couple of strokes and years of smoking), and she seems unable to enjoy the simplest thing. I don’t think that the latter is as much to do with her bereavement as perhaps a sadness as to who and what she has become.
The trouble is that it is not just me who sees this side to her. I worry that once the rawness of grief subsides people will see her as a miserable (not all that old) woman. That she will be lonely because she struggles to relate to people and snaps. I worry that I will be one of those daughters who visits out of duty, rather than because I want to.
For the most part, this weekend has been fine. She has wanted to do little and mainly this has suited me. I thought she would have talked about dad more, wanted to laugh more about good times. But that hasn’t been the case.
However, yesterday when we were out for a drive in the french countryside she told me about some of the adventures she and dad had when they were ‘lost in France’ and how, often they had found themselves on narrow tracks and once a farmers field. Perhaps dad was with us, because shortly afterwards, following a diversion sign we ended up on a small, bumpy, potholed track which might have led to a farmers field, but luckily ended up back on the main road.