Most of this week’s post was first published on Instagram on Sunday 19th April 2020. You can see the original post, and the comments it received here on Instagram.


Today would have been my mum’s 95th birthday. She died in hospital 3 days ago. I know the first question at this time will be whether the coronavirus played a part.

Fortunately, it wasn’t the cause of death, but it has certainly played its part. For the last 4 weeks, as she was moved from ward to ward and hospital to hospital – she did so without any of her family being able to see her, to speak to her, to share a joke or memory that might raise a smile, to hug her or hold her hand. And that’s just not right.

On her last night one immediate family member was allowed to be by her side. I’m so glad that my brother – currently stranded in the UK away from his own home and family in Spain (while another brother is locked down at his home in France!) was able to be with her.

I take comfort from the fact that she is now at peace and will suffer no more. But still, none of this is right and it all cuts me to the core.

This sketch, of her favourite chair, was done just after we were told that we could no longer visit mum. Painting it felt like a way of being close to her. It taught me that it’s really hard to paint when you’re crying. It’s not one I’m particularly proud of but, on this particular day, my mum’s 95th birthday, I don’t care.

Happy birthday mum. I bloody love you!! x

No tags today. Only tears.


Now I know that I’ve posted this image here on the blog before but, even though I’m not especially proud of it, its emptiness now has a poignancy that goes far beyond anything I could ever have imagined.

I may write more about my mum in a future post. I have in mind some kind of obituary but right now, I just don’t have it in me. I’m already finding it challenging – living in a small flat with my family in lockdown – to find the physical and emotional space to properly grieve.

The funeral, such as is allowed, will take place this Friday. In the meantime, I need to drink lots of water for there are floods of tears still to come.

Rest in peace mum. I love you so much.

Me and my mum, forever, shoulder to shoulder

I have been incredibly heartened and comforted by the many messages expressing support and sympathy that I have already received. If you have already left a message or been in touch, please don’t feel the need to respond again here.

57 thoughts on “RIP Mum. 19/04/1925 – 16/04/2020

  1. Oh John, I’m so sorry to hear this. My thoughts go out to you and yours at this terribly difficult time. (Sounds like your siblings are about as far flung as my brothers and I are and my own mother is 87 and locked down in Colchester, UK, so, I do have some idea where you are coming from with this) I wish you peace and happy memories as you begin your greiving process – and may your painting be a solace to you and a way to get those feelings out. Best wishes and sympathy – Your painting of her empty chair is so beautiful and illustrative of how you must feel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Hilda and thanks so much for this, I really appreciate it and feel for you in your circumstances too! As if there’s not enough to worry about with maturing parents before you throw in a life-threatening virus and social lock down! I’m not sure my paintings will become expressive of any grief, but it certainly provides a welcome distraction to just about everything that’s going on at the moment! Hope that you and your family – where ever they are! – are keeping safe and well!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so sorry for your loss, John, and for your not being able to be with your family and friends at this time. The empty rose colored chair is perfect, just as is your mum’s smile. Both are warm and inviting, well worn, and absolutely perfect. Take good care in the days and months to come.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jean and thanks so much for such lovely and evocative words. I love the idea of my mums smile and chair being inviting, well worn and perfect! We had been planning to return home soon after the funeral but have decided to stay on a few days. It feels nice to still be here, to be surrounded by all the things that made her home hers, and to be surrounded by all our memories of past visits when she was alive. It’s like still being able to enjoy the warmth and security of her embrace.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Jo. The funeral was on Friday and things are already beginning to feel a little lighter. I still know that there will be lots of ups and downs ahead but at least I now feel able to focus on all the brilliant things about my mum and her life rather than the tragic circumstances of her final weeks. Thanks Jo.

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      1. It sounds really good that you’ve moved passed that very difficult stage. I think you’re right that there are bound to be ups and downs but it’s good that you are starting to heal. All the very best.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry for your lost John. I too have bereavement. I lost my brother three weeks ago, a day after his 57th birthday thousands miles away in the other side of the world. I couldn’t go to say my good bye because no foreigners were allowed in at that time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so sorry for your loss and am heartbroken for you and your family not being able to be with her. It’s just not right. The poignant painting of her favorite chair brought a tear to my eye. Sending sincere condolences and prayers 🙏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Carol and thanks so much for your kind words and sympathies – they’re much appreciated. We had the funeral yesterday. Small as you can imagine in the current circumstances but very unique, personal and special. The sadness of mum’s final weeks is now beginning to be replaced with just the love and appreciation we all have for such a wonderfully woman and a life well lived. This alone feels good. Thanks so much Carol – my very best wishes to you, John

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  5. I am very sorry for your loss John. And yes it is not right, and unfortunately your mum was just one of many mums, dads, brothers, sisters… The only comfort I can think off is that hopefully when all is over society will change for the better. There will be many lessons to be learnt from all this. I love your painting – stronger than words…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ercilia and thanks so much for your kind words. We had the funeral yesterday and already, today, things feel a little different. Like you, I hope that after this, lessons will have been learnt and that people have a greater appreciation for the truly important things in life. I personally don’t to actually return to the ‘normal’ we knew, but to a much better ‘normal’ – I hope that this makes sense? In the meantime, thanks again for taking the time to reach out and comment, it’s much appreciated.

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  6. John, your message brought tears to my eyes. I simply could not reply immediately; it shook me up that much, but here I am now finding words inadequate to express my feelings. I will add one thing though, I REALLY loved seeing your photo and getting to see what you look like! You are in my prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your message Margery – I really appreciate your kind words and thoughts. Glad you like the photo too. Mum wasn’t a great one for having her photo taken so the ones we do have are all the more precious. That one was from a quite a few years ago (I can date it more by mum’s walking stick rather than her walking frame!). All best wishes Margery

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  7. John, I am so sorry. I simply cannot imagine what you have been going through with this mess and not being able to see your Mum. This is heartbreaking. My thoughts are with you and your family. Try to remember the happiness you shared. 💔😥

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    1. Hi Tim and thanks so much for this, I really appreciate it and apologies for taking so long to reply. Turns out this post had a lot of comments that, in the furore of the time – I didn’t see or respond to!

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  8. My sincere condolences my friend. It doesn’t matter how old parents are it stays a big loss. Have strength and my thoughts goes also to your family. best wishes Edo

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Please accept my condolences. You clearly ghad a wonderful realationship with her which is a gift you will always treasure. I hope at this difficult time your memories are of some comfort.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Suzula – thanks so much for reaching out with your kind words and thoughts, I really appreciate it and yes, I’m sure that in time, my many good memories will sustain and comfort me. Thank you

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  10. Oh John, I am so sorry to read this. The circumstances made the loss even harder for you all. I can only send you good wishes and be happy that you painted her special chair. Sending virtual hugs xx
    Carole

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My heart goes out to you. I’m so sorry for your loss and especially for the circumstances. Truly unfair all the way around. My father passed away this past February and we were just starting to feel the affects of COVID-19 at the time. I hope you feel the peace and love from our Savior at this time.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Cheyenne and thanks so much for this and yes – I think the ladies of April 1925 were an extraordinarily fine vintage! Really appreciate your kind thoughts and words.

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    1. Hi Camie – so sorry to hear about your all too recent loss – I can appreciate how raw everything must still feel. I also really appreciate your kind words and thoughts as this difficult time – thanks so much.

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    1. Thanks very much for your kind thoughts and words Joe – having a little sob now reading them. You’re quite right though, I can take great consolation and comfort in the strength of the bond we had and that’s going to mean so much to me in the days/weeks/years ahead!

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  12. My deep sympathy to you , John . My mother died nearly 8 years ago and I still miss her . Yes it is very hard for families losing anyone at this time – perhaps things need not be quite so draconian ? At least one of your brothers was able to be there .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Rukshana and thanks so much for this. I’m beginning to come to terms with the fact that I’ll most likely miss mum for the remainder of my life! It is great that my brother was able to be with her at the end and, having seen first hand the pressure and strain that the hospitals are under, I do understand why things have to be so strict – but it just seems so unfair! Am now trying to focus on what a wonderful woman she was rather than these unfortunate circumstances. Thanks so much Rukshana, all best wishes

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    1. Thanks so much this Brian. So pleased that you enjoy the blog and paintings – it means a lot to me. If I can carry on doing both through this, then I figure I paint and blog through just about anything! Really appreciate your kind and supportive thoughts.

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  13. This is a beautiful post. I’m so sorry about your loss, I can’t imagine how challenging it has been and the grief, guilt and a million other emotions you must be feeling. Take time to process your feelings and continue painting x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for this. Heartbreaking is certainly a fitting description of how I’ve felt. Am now trying to focus on mum’s ‘life well lived’ rather than on the circumstances of her final weeks.

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  14. John, my sympathies go out to you. My father passed away last year and we’ve been unable to bury his ashes due to the current situation. We were fortunate to be beside his bed though so I really feel for you not being able to be with your mum. Light a candle and remember the good times, your mum will always be with you in that chair.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much Warren and I’m sorry to hear about your all too recent loss. I’ll be lighting candles for mum for years to come and the idea of mum always being with me in that chair brings tears to my eyes (in a good way!) – thanks so much!

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