I’ve got to start by noting how cute I was when I was two, I’m sorry. I can’t possibly avoid it. I’ve no recollection of where I am, or who took the photo, although I can safely assume it was Dad. And perhaps I’m wearing Mum’s hat?
I’m guessing I was about 2 and a half, and to this day I still like to sport a good cap. I’d never seen this picture before summer 2018, when I spotted it at Mum’s house in England on my last visit. She must have dug it out of somewhere, during her constant, chaotic, unnecessary ‘organising and sorting’.
It was propped on the little table in the narrow hallway, next to those ceramic hedgehogs I made as a surly teenager at my part-time summer job; it made us both smile when I picked it up and commented on it.
After those 3 weeks down in Devon, doing my best to take care of Mum’s needs, filling her full of good healthy food/going to the dentist/doctor/hairdresser/theatre etc etc, the day came for me to leave for London, then home to Australia. As I packed my bag, I was overcome with the urge to take the small blurry photo, in its scuffed fake gold frame.
Should I ask Mum, I wondered? She’d probably say yes. But what if she said no? I knew she was already feeling sad at saying goodbye to me for another year, so I hesitated to add any more emotional loading on her.
Was it wrong to take a photo of myself I’d never seen before, which actually showed a lot of who I once was, and still am? A picture I could show my teenage son, and the dearest Australian friends who’ve only known me since I arrived Down Under at age 20?
Yes, it was probably wrong to take without asking.
But I knew Mum’s dementia would get in the way of her understanding of the situation, so I decided to effectively ‘steal it’ for safe keeping.
Or that’s how I justified it anyway.
And I’m glad I did, because less than 3 months later, she was placed in a temporary Home for her own safety, and then in January 2019 my legend of a cousin drove Mum to a new permanent care Home in Wales, near where she was born 82 years ago. Which means that part of that process involved reducing all her belongings to a few boxes and a couple of suitcases; that little picture of me could so easily have become lost…
So I’m happy I took it. I pass it everyday, propped on my living room window sill; I think about Mum, feeling grateful that she’s now safe, warm, fed, entertained, and most importantly, back on her home ground. There is a beautiful circularity for me in her final location, and I’ve hoped for this outcome for years. She’s back where she belongs, and I hope the land welcomes her return.
I know she’d forgive me for my theft, so I’ve done that for myself too; as Debbie always says at ForgivingConnects, it heals, and feels good.
Is there anything you need to forgive yourself for?
Thanks Mum, for your ongoing journey, and the love we share, across the oceans.
In gratitude for being a Mum, and thus finally becoming a better daughter, G xO