Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of my mother’s death. I wrote about the anniversary a year ago, in this piece. This year we followed a slightly different pattern to previous years. We prepared for the anniversary by planting some flowers the day before. It was the first time that my children have helped out with this task. I had never asked them before. My daughter and I bought green, white and gold plants to replicate the colours of the Irish flag on the grave. The green was a shamrock plant, the white and gold (or “deep orange”) were pansies. We did this on Sunday afternoon.
On the anniversary itself, a Monday, we had the usual mass at the church where her funeral took place. There were more of us than in previous years. My brother, his wife and their daughter had come over from Spain. The mass was said by our former parish priest, who turned 90 late last year and is the only priest nearby who remembers her. He said nice things, about her and about us.
After mass we had coffee and cake at Rhythm & Brews and walked to the graveyard. The cherry blossom was in bloom all along Staveley Road, as it was on the day of the funeral 20 years ago. We visited the grave and more flowers were planted. I broke my Lenten fast and had a couple of beers with our family meal. I had a couple more at the Express by Kew Bridge, my brother’s favourite pub and one that I had never been to before. I have lived within two miles of it for most of my life, but it’s in a different postcode, so it didn’t qualify when I completed the set of “Every pub in my postcode” earlier this year.
In the evening we had a Passover Meal with my wife’s family in North London, the first time that this celebration has coincided with my mother’s anniversary. I had a few minutes to myself at 9.45pm, the exact time that she died. We stayed later than usual, way past 11pm, occupied by the thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle in the front room, and were home just before midnight.