Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Final Snapshots

It’s dusty in there. And more spider webs criss-crossing the beams than you’d find at a Halloween party. The air is dry and thick, and seems to absorb the hum of the fluorescent light which sends insects scattering for the cracks so they can plot once more their musical dance of destruction in the papers and objects piled against the walls.

On the floor is a large box. Inside it, I am a child. So are my brothers. Of course, we’re grown up, now, but the hundreds of rectangles in black and white or faded orange Polaroid trap us in permanent youth. There are aunts and uncles, cousins dressed in their best outfits for weddings and lavish Christmas lunches, and pictures of my parents when they were younger than I am now, looking relaxed and tanned on the gravelly beaches of summer holidays.

There’s my pet cat. He’s sitting on a tartan rug, an inscrutable Siamese, forever reclining in a patch of sunlight next to a boy whose skinny legs are capped, predictably, with Wellington boots.

There’s my Dad. I think he’s dancing. His friends are laughing, and holding glasses full of amber liquid. Their sideburns and checked trousers slot them neatly into another decade. There’s Mum. She’s squinting into the camera, the tint on her glasses not quite shielding her eyes from the sun, which is causing the skin on her shoulders on either side of the swimming costume straps to redden.

And then my brothers and I, progressing through school. Wide happy smiles in the early years, attitude and bad hairstyles as teenagers, always posed with our bodies slightly angled, reminding me of missing persons photographs.

Places and people I don’t recall, all having been threaded into our family script, and then discarded or forgotten, as we reinvented ourselves in different countries. Scotland. Canada. England. South Africa. Here.

And there, in the garage, with the boxes of memories and unused tents and golf clubs, the scrabble box with its score sheets telling a tale of winter evenings, and the paintings which didn’t fit in with the décor after moving house, is my mother.

She’s been waiting there for today for over two years. Once a carbon-based life form, now just carbon. Waiting for the request she wrote in the same curly loving script she used to write on birthday cards and letters- Santa’s handwriting, now that I think of it- the request that her ashes be scattered on the sea she’d stare at, walk next to, daydream into. Today she’ll join the waves in a broad swing of our hands, and pause, on the surface, thousands of granules, the sun reflecting off them giving them the same naughty glint she’d get in her eyes when being risqué with her friends.

And she’ll sink, and join the shifting sands, having passed through our fingers and our lives, and I think we’ll hear her voice just once more, whispering, goodbye, Scotty, goodbye John, goodbye Markie Parkie. Goodbye.


  1. Aaw Scott! Beautifully written and heart felt. I miss your dear mum too! x

  2. This post moved me to tears. Sending you and your family much love.

  3. a very moving story Scott, beautiful with imagery

  4. Would have liked to have been there. Thinking of her today and missing her.

  5. Beautiful, Scott. Thinking of you today. I know she must be so proud of you.

  6. Closing chapters.
    Beautifully written as always

  7. Thanks to all of you for commenting. Janine, I know she treated you as a daughter, so I understand it was hard for you too. Julia, Sally-Jane, Anon (lisa) and Beck, it wasn't a bad day; quite peaceful, in fact.

  8. Memories of a very dear friend. Happy, happy days in Caistor.
    Beautifully written & composed.
    Life is much richer for the memories of shared moments with loved friends & family.
    Treasure those memories, Scotty, we do.
    Howie & Pat


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