margaret s (1935-2005)

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My mum died, suddenly but peacefully, on the morning of 16 April, in the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, three weeks ago today. She was 69, and had been ill for a long time.

What do you say about someone who dies? She played the clarinet, quite well in her younger days. Until it got spidery and shaky in the last year or so, she had bold, shapely, lovely handwriting - the nicest (though the largest) I've ever encountered, even allowing maybe for bias. She once informed me, stoutly, that she "hated space" (meaning the empty black stuff we hurtle through on this ball of woe). If you asked her how to cook something, she would launch into a vast free-form sketch of EVERY way you could possibly cook that thing, plus webbed into and across it every way you could cook the things she'd so far mentioned without the thing you asked about: you ended up dazed and amused, grasping at fragments.

All those webs and fragments and stories gone beyond reach now. She told stories well, and was adept at being someone you could recount good stories about.

Things I'm glad about:
I was with her when she died, reading to her.
She wasn't in pain those last two weeks, seemed lucid and in good spirits.
For the first time in ages, she had a bed by a window in the hospital, and could look out over the pretty spires of the town she'd settled near almost 50 years ago.

Things I'm sad about:
When you start putting someone's affairs in order you come across countless hints - photos, diaries, letters, even official documents - of how things unfolded, good and bad. I hope her life didn't turn out all disappointments - I know some of it was. Ten years after she married, in 1967, my dad developed Parkinson's Disease. I hope she didn't spend her life after that in mourning for him, for all the things he gradually couldn't do. And then when it turned out that, disabled as he was, he would outlive her, I hope she didn't spend what remained of her time in mourning for herself, for all the things she'd have wanted to do if she hadn't been caring for him. All of us spend part of our adult life in mourning, for ourselves and others. But when you look at images of her as a child and as a teenager and young woman, eager for adventure, how can you help seeing the smash and ruin of so much possibility, whatever there may also have been to balance against that?

mark s (mark s), Saturday, 7 May 2005 11:23 (sixteen years ago) link

I had wanted to email you for weeks, asking how you were, your mother's health. Then I read about her passing away.

A friend's dad just passed away - cancer having spread to the brain. I just wonder how you deal with a parent passing away...

nathalie in a bar under the sea (stevie nixed), Saturday, 7 May 2005 11:38 (sixteen years ago) link

I feel guilty for only just finding out about this - I've been very distracted of late. Hope you're okay.

Seems like a strange thing to say, but I can't imagine many better ways to die. To have had both your parents with you, ill or otherwise, for as long as you have is a real gift.

Matt DC (Matt DC), Saturday, 7 May 2005 11:52 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm so sorry for your loss, Mark. My deepest condolences to you and your family.

Penelope_111 (Penelope_111), Saturday, 7 May 2005 11:53 (sixteen years ago) link

Very sorry to hear, Mark.

MarkH (MarkH), Saturday, 7 May 2005 12:00 (sixteen years ago) link

(I never know what to say. I just wanted to say how sorry I am for both not emailing and the loss of your mother...)

nathalie in a bar under the sea (stevie nixed), Saturday, 7 May 2005 12:01 (sixteen years ago) link

Mark, I'm so sorry to hear that. Take care...

kerry (dymaxia), Saturday, 7 May 2005 12:05 (sixteen years ago) link

My condolences and best wishes to you.

Rock Hardy (Rock Hardy), Saturday, 7 May 2005 12:11 (sixteen years ago) link

As before, sir, and as Mr. Crump has said -- my condolences and very best.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 7 May 2005 12:15 (sixteen years ago) link

my very best wishes, mark.

RJG (RJG), Saturday, 7 May 2005 13:04 (sixteen years ago) link

lovely obit, mark. hang in there.

jones (actual), Saturday, 7 May 2005 13:17 (sixteen years ago) link

There aren't always words for situations like this, and even if there are I never know what they are. However I've followed and admired your strength in looking after your mother through your posting to ILE, and I hope you continue to be strong over the coming days, weeks, months and years.

My deepest condolences and very best wishes go out to you and the rest of your family.

ailsa (ailsa), Saturday, 7 May 2005 13:56 (sixteen years ago) link

I've just seen this. My condolences, Mark.

Mary (Mary), Saturday, 7 May 2005 16:18 (sixteen years ago) link

take care, mark, best wishes. xx

cozen (Cozen), Saturday, 7 May 2005 17:06 (sixteen years ago) link

All of us spend part of our adult life in mourning, for ourselves and others.


Best wishes, mark, to you and your sister.

youn, Saturday, 7 May 2005 17:41 (sixteen years ago) link

My condolences, mark. I know this means very little, but the TV conversations you had w/ her & posted on FT made me laugh, a lot.

Daniel_Rf (Daniel_Rf), Saturday, 7 May 2005 18:44 (sixteen years ago) link

I think she has a very good rememberer.

Condolences and best wishes.

Tom (Groke), Saturday, 7 May 2005 19:16 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm sorry Mark.

Miss Misery (thatgirl), Saturday, 7 May 2005 19:19 (sixteen years ago) link

Mark, my condolences.

H (Heruy), Saturday, 7 May 2005 19:24 (sixteen years ago) link

my sympathies.

s1ocki (slutsky), Saturday, 7 May 2005 20:48 (sixteen years ago) link

I am terribly sorry to hear of your loss. What you have written here in tribute to your mother is very beautiful, very heartfelt, and it's obvious how much you loved her and how highly she thought of you in return. Hopefully you and your family will be able to help each other out in this period of mourning.

Goodbye Indian Summer (Dee the Lurker), Sunday, 8 May 2005 02:39 (sixteen years ago) link

my sincere condolences.

Orbit (Orbit), Sunday, 8 May 2005 03:03 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm so sorry, mark. I can only offer best wishes that you can find peace.

Sundar (sundar), Sunday, 8 May 2005 03:10 (sixteen years ago) link

I thought this was a beautifully-written and moving tribute to your mother, precisely because it avoided the formulaic and looked at just a few small details, slipping glimpses.

I've been conscious of your accounts of these troubles adding a layer of darkness to ILX, by which I mean a thoroughly good kind of darkness, one which makes this place much deeper, wider, wiser and more mature.

Momus (Momus), Sunday, 8 May 2005 06:25 (sixteen years ago) link

I wish I could say something which would ease your grief like some magic pill, but I can't. I've lost three people in the past couple of months, one of my best friends too, despite that I can't imagine what it would be like to lose your mother. All I can hope is that time will heal and you'll be left with the memories of love, happiness and good times.

Billy Dods (Billy Dods), Sunday, 8 May 2005 10:48 (sixteen years ago) link

I hope you can manage to cope Mark, sorry to hear the news.

Ronan (Ronan), Sunday, 8 May 2005 15:19 (sixteen years ago) link

Take care, Mark.

miccio (miccio), Sunday, 8 May 2005 15:20 (sixteen years ago) link

Sorry to hear this, Mark. All best wishes.

beanz (beanz), Sunday, 8 May 2005 15:21 (sixteen years ago) link

Mark, it sounds (from this and other stuff you posted) that she had a rich and full life, with much love to offset her and your dad's health difficulties. As we've spoken about briefly, these mid years (40-odds) can be tough - becoming a parent to your parents is something you never really expect to have to do. That you have done it so well and with so much love says so much for the wonderful person that you are, and that she must have been. Look after your dad, yr sister and yourself! Take care.

Dr. C (Dr. C), Sunday, 8 May 2005 15:37 (sixteen years ago) link

My condolences to you and your family Mark. xoxo

luna's e, Sunday, 8 May 2005 17:18 (sixteen years ago) link

i just saw this.

mark: i'm incredibly sorry for your loss, not least because i have been entertained and fascinated and touched by your stories of your family and family history on ilx over the past few years. it know means little at such a time, but nevertheless, i will join the chorus in saying that i offer my condolences and wish you the strength and sanity in the coming months/years/eternities. god bless.

Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Sunday, 8 May 2005 17:26 (sixteen years ago) link

mark, i wanted to email you about this, because talking to you when yr mum was sick in the last few years about moms and illness and death and responsibility and any number of other things were deeply important to me coming to grips with some things in my own life (whether i let you know it or not at the time), but i wasn't quite sure what to say, without it seeming trite or forced (especially since we haven't talked much lately). and you (and yr mum) deserve better. i'm not sure this is much better, but it'd probably be worse at this point to not offer my condolences at all. yr one of the few reasons i'd be saddened if the "delete all" button got pushed on this place.

strng hlkngtn, Sunday, 8 May 2005 17:45 (sixteen years ago) link

Thank you Mark for providing a place for me to revisit once I face the inevitable same thing. And obviously, if you ever need someone to talk to, I'm here... I hope you can find peace in the meantime.

donut debonair (donut), Sunday, 8 May 2005 18:00 (sixteen years ago) link

best wishes mark.

mark p (Mark P), Monday, 9 May 2005 00:41 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm sorry for your loss, mark. (I felt similarly grateful to be present when my mother died.)

RS_LaRue (RSLaRue), Monday, 9 May 2005 00:57 (sixteen years ago) link

i never know what to say, but yeah. i'm so sorry.

Sterling Clover (s_clover), Monday, 9 May 2005 01:24 (sixteen years ago) link

Your mom was obviously a total G simply by having given your brain that DNA. Condolences and big transatlantic thoughtwave hugs, marko - ((({{{mark s}}}))).

LeCoq (LeCoq), Monday, 9 May 2005 01:56 (sixteen years ago) link

Mark, best wishes - I hope the family stories continue. (Have you read Ian Frazier's Family? I think you'd like it. A lot of it is about what he discovered about his parents and other ancestors when he went through his mother and dad's effects after they died.)

Frank Kogan (Frank Kogan), Monday, 9 May 2005 02:36 (sixteen years ago) link

Mark you're a good man, and a great son.

Haikunym (Haikunym), Monday, 9 May 2005 02:50 (sixteen years ago) link

What do you say about someone who dies?

In my case, about 250,000 words over the last three-and-a-half years.

Last week I realised I had said everything I needed to say, so I stopped.

In three months' time it will have been four years.

"What's WRONG with you, it's four years, move ON!"

Except four years isn't nearly long enough.

From my perspective it seems like four minutes.

Not sure if I can help you here, Mark. Edward C (1931-81) died 11 days after his half-century essentially because of his own stupid stubbornness - he wouldn't slow down, he couldn't relax - and neither I nor my mum were at all surprised when it happened; the only surprise being that it had taken so long.

Can't afford to think of anything happening to my mum. What has STOPPED me these last four years more than anything else is that damned line from Godfather II - "Not while my mother's alive."

This always happens when bad things happen to friends of mine. I can sympathise but never empathise. I don't have T&G's gift for the latter. Except when Laura's mum died, but then that leads to something else and back to where I started.

I realise that this is of zero help or consolation Mark but...

Marcello Carlin (nostudium), Monday, 9 May 2005 05:35 (sixteen years ago) link

My condolences, Mark - I wish I was around to offer them in person. Hope you're coping okay, or at least as best you can. your post is (if it's not strange to say) beautiful to read, the details you pick out, the sense of her character... your mother is someone I've grown to like through your writing about her. Look after yourself, okay?

cis (cis), Monday, 9 May 2005 05:40 (sixteen years ago) link

I am so sorry to hear this Mark. I hope you are ok, although I am sure that is a stupid statement. My thoughts are with you & your family. Please take care of yourself.

PinXorchiXoR (Pinkpanther), Monday, 9 May 2005 07:58 (sixteen years ago) link

Your mum sounded great, I always hoped I'd get to meet her someday (though possibly the odds were never good). And now she'll never get her weblog!

Andrew Farrell (afarrell), Monday, 9 May 2005 08:23 (sixteen years ago) link

Mark, I'm so sorry for your loss. Your mother was lucky enough to have devoted, loving children and to have them around and caring for her at the end of her life. Many people don't have that and I think, with your actions and, on a different level, the above piece of writing, you've done her proud.
Don't forget to take take care of yourself too.

Anna (Anna), Monday, 9 May 2005 08:36 (sixteen years ago) link

my thoughts are with you, mark.

emsk, Monday, 9 May 2005 12:08 (sixteen years ago) link

My deepest condolences, Mark.

The Ghost of Dan Perry (Dan Perry), Monday, 9 May 2005 12:45 (sixteen years ago) link

My sympathies, Mark.
And like many people on this thread have said, don't forget to take good care of yourself too.

t\'\'t (t\'\'t), Monday, 9 May 2005 15:01 (sixteen years ago) link

My sympathies, Mark.
Best wishes.

Huk-L, Monday, 9 May 2005 15:03 (sixteen years ago) link

hang on to the things you're glad about, mark, they will get you through. you're in our thoughts.

Dave M. (rotten03), Monday, 9 May 2005 15:07 (sixteen years ago) link

Mark, I'm so sorry for the hard times you've gone through and the even harder culmination of them. Keep hold of the beautiful memories, and look after yourself.

Archel (Archel), Monday, 9 May 2005 15:15 (sixteen years ago) link

many thanks and much love to everyone here, and here, and the ilxors - and allagedly ex-ilxors! - who emailed me, and of course everyone who posted help and support here

to marcello and sterl and nath and strongo and others, who worry about saying the right thing or the wrong thing, all i can say from this side is, i'm not sure there is a wrong thing: as billy dods says, there is no "magic pill" - that's not a benchmark you shd should worry about falling short of! it is just nice to hear from people, basically - even if i haven't always replied... and don't assume that what you find to say will be something i don't want to hear, or already know and needn't hear again, or whatever: i posted this on a morning when i wz very stressed and angry, and what matt said, in the second post, was unexpectedly soothing and helpful - i'd simply not thought of things that way before, and at that moment it hit the spot

(also: billy, i'm desperately sorry to hear how hard the time is you've been going through)

several times over the last few days, since i've been back in london and back at work, i've heard a phone ring and wondered momentarily if it was mum, and how things are, hoping to hear that she's feeling a lot better and to chat to her about silly things

i like writing about her and i'm sure i'll continue to do so

mark s (mark s), Wednesday, 11 May 2005 09:41 (sixteen years ago) link

the phone ring that you suddenly think is them, it seems to have a different timbre, sometimes. its probably because it happens out of the blue, when you are next expecting anyone, or when you're already lost in thoughts about things. i've never felt sad when i heard those kinds of rings though, even though it would obviously turn out to be someone else..

charltonlido (gareth), Wednesday, 11 May 2005 10:18 (sixteen years ago) link

the door that never opens, even though you're waiting for her to come back home, in the full knowledge that she can't.

the bed I COULDN'T BEAR to sleep in (I slept on the sofa until I left Oxford).

the smell of her clothes in the wardrobe, the smell of HER, still fresh.

the books she never got around to reading.

the music she'll never get to hear again.

and i still can't get past any of this.

but this is not the same thing as losing your mum.

so really i should shut up.

Marcello Carlin (nostudium), Wednesday, 11 May 2005 10:22 (sixteen years ago) link

several times over the last few days, since i've been back in london and back at work, i've heard a phone ring and wondered momentarily if it was mum

That might not fade much - even years afterwards I was getting that about Dad, like the first time I saw Highbury (he was an Arsenal fan, but only on the telly), or when I started to learn more about Dublin, and stitched together bits that featured in car journeys into the city from when I was little.

Like Gareth, I stopped interpreting this as pain.

Andrew Farrell (afarrell), Wednesday, 11 May 2005 10:23 (sixteen years ago) link

(Er, but not through the power of will or anything)

Andrew Farrell (afarrell), Wednesday, 11 May 2005 11:09 (sixteen years ago) link

when my sister died, in 1997 (a couple months after laydee Di died! in fact, I was visiting my sister -for the last time, and i kinda knew it, but didn't want to admit it - when Di became a candle in the wind. Or, wait, was she already a candle in the wind and then she died and became something else? in any case, my brother-in-law and I were watching television when it came on the news and we didn't know whether we should wake my sister or not, because we knew how emotional she got when her fave celebrities left this mortal coil. we didn't wake her. and she was very sad the next day. i'm sure i made jokes. they were the same age. she taught me how to play russian solitaire and then i went home on a plane. and that was it. two months later she was gone. i wanted to go back in time and tell her: don't waste your tears on Di! But that's just the way she was.) one of my BIGGEST fears was that I would forget what her voice sounded like. We weren't one of those modern stone age families with copious audio/video archives. I didn't want to lose her voice in my head. This worried me greatly. Well, as it turned out, she started visiting me regularly. in my dreams! and not in creepy scary dreams, or anything like that. THOSE are reserved for grandpa! NO, more like visitation dreams. I am wandering along and there she is. And she is always happy to see me. And it's really her. And her voice is gloriously her own. and I am always shocked at first. how? but....and i don't actually want to say to her, but you're d.....i feel that would be rude. and i can't believe my luck and i don't want to jinx myself. and we talk. and she is with me. i almost couldn't ask for anything more! at first, it was almost every night. and now, 8 years later, at least once or twice a month. it's sad when she goes or when i wake up, but i'm so happy to have the time. so, something in me wouldn't allow her voice to disappear. that worry I had. or she really is visiting me from her condo in valhalla. one or the other. all i know is, it's a lovely way to remember without spending a lot of money on candles. that time heals all wounds thing. man, it's true and it's not true. the ache lessens over time, but there's a hole there and i don't know if it ever gets completely filled up. i've been trying to fill it with ice cream apparently. i'll let you know if that works.

scott seward (scott seward), Wednesday, 11 May 2005 11:12 (sixteen years ago) link

I've only just found this thread. I'm really sorry, Mark, and I hope you're alright.

Madchen (Madchen), Wednesday, 11 May 2005 12:50 (sixteen years ago) link

Take care, Mark.

I know two other people who've lost their mums very recently - one after a long illness and the other due to a sudden worsening of a condition diagnosed over 20 years ago and thought to be under control. It's hard to know what to say, hard to rein in one's own selfish thoughts about the inevitable day when...

Michael Jones (MichaelJ), Wednesday, 11 May 2005 13:00 (sixteen years ago) link

Really sorry to hear about this, Mark. Condolences and best wishes to you and your family.

robster (robster), Wednesday, 11 May 2005 13:01 (sixteen years ago) link

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