Winter thoughts from my mother’s garden

My father passed away a few weeks ago, just short of the anniversary of my mother’s death, which is today.

My mother's garden in winter.
My mother’s garden in winter.

Dad was a scientist – an electronics engineer. He specialised in sound engineering and held patents, working at the Westrex labs in London in the 1950s among other things.

On a day in late July, just gone, I carried my father’s ashes back to his home – the family home which Dad shared with my mother until her death, and where he then lived until his last weeks. I found myself standing in the yard. I left when I was 18 and moved to a city 300 km distant, but it was still a place filled with memories, where I had grown up with my brother and sister and where I was always welcomed back. Last summer – the summer after Mum died – her garden bloomed in the last flourish of the hollyhocks and flowers she had planted. Now the place was forlorn, the colours leached by a bleak winter. My father’s Volkswagen camper van, its paint faded, was parked beside the house.

Only the wind chimes remained to tell me of the colour and life that had once been. I remembered the tower-hut I once built against the shed so I could sit writing sci-fi novels. I remembered the summer of 1979-80 when Dad – who had been brought up in the jazz age – still insisted on playing Pink Floyd’s The Wall at monolithic volume, crystal clear and distortion-free, on the incredible home sound system he’d built.

As I stood there, these and many other moments became the monochrome winter palette around me. It fitted my mood. On top of the loss of both parents in less than a year I’ve fielded a huge personal life-blow at the same time. As a friend remarked of the combination, ‘that’s not a crisis – it’s an apocalypse.’

That’s why this blog and my social media in general have been neglected of late. I’ll get back to it soon. Watch this space.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2016

11 thoughts on “Winter thoughts from my mother’s garden

  1. I feel for your loss, Mathew. Your beautiful words reminded me of my own loss in 1996 – both of my parents dying within five months of each other, one in our golden summer, the other on the eve of a vicious winter.
    One never quite gets over it … am sorry to say it will always be there, but the good times will always remain. And it does get better.

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  2. I’m so sorry to hear this, Matthew. As you know, I lost my dad last October. It hits me hard every day. I worry about my mom and plan to go back this fall. I can’t imagine losing both parents in a year, but that is a testament to their love. You mentioned another blow. Remember, everything happens in threes. May your spring bring warmth and renewed hope. I’ll send lots of prayers and positive energy.

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  3. My deepest sympathy to you in your time of loss and sorrow.
    Time will heal and you will carry them always in your heart.
    The good memories will stay for many tomorrows.
    Your parents will always play in your life a special part.
    Hope this poem will help you heal.
    With blessings & prayers,
    Janice Spina

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  4. Oh, Matthew. I am so sorry to hear of your father’s death; it does seem too much in such a short period of time. I remember your lovely garden post, and yes, this post and the photo suit what is now. The death of your parents in less than a year is more than sufficient for the heart, which, it seems, must bear even more. You are a lover of words, a writer of history, a scientist who offers a theory here and there, and we who read you, are richer for it. Take all the time you need, Matthew, we’ll look after things here. You have taught us well, my friend.


  5. we must be at that age, my mum died last year. You just think you are ok with it then something comes along to remind you of mum, or dad, and there’s the sting back; I don’t think I will ever get over it, just get better at internalising the hurt, stiff upper lip and all that. Was nice to read this post none the less, we are all human (even high achievers like you!)

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  6. You will always be part of them. Grieving is such a personal matter, different for each, and the only ‘right’ way – is your way.
    I am the only suriving member of my family – other than children. My younger brother died last year, my husband the year before.
    My thoughts are with you

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  7. I’m very sorry to hear of your loss and wish you all the best during this sad time.

    Your parents must’ve been so very proud of you. I know you will treasure all those precious memories.

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  8. I am very sorry to hear you have your dad and not long before your mum – i guess he missed her very much.

    Understand what it feels like to stand in a garden where you were little and every corner has a memory.

    My aunt who was always a bit of a character always wanted to see our garden but somehow this never happened as she lived quite a long way off and the night she went i got up in the early hours and looked outside in the dark and near our garage i saw a large halo round the light that comes on just before sunrise and to me this meant she dropped by have a little look, and maybe say goodbye

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  9. Beautifully written – sincere condolences on your loss. I live a very long way from where I grew up but this post filled me with memories and a mix of longing and happiness.

    Thank you for recently following my blog, I hope you’ll find plenty to enjoy. I’m looking forward to reading your work.

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