I've never really had a plan, five year or otherwise and must admit to mostly blundering and stumbling my way through life with the naivety of a wide eyed child waiting for someone to pop up and show me the way. Occasionally, I'll display an odd moment of clarity or direction as a passing nod to the powers that be just to show them I know what I'm doing or at least appear to do so.
This past month however has seen major upheaval for my family who have been swept along by a tidal wave of gargantuan proportions that would have us clinging to life as we knew it one minute and acutely aware of the need to focus and plan the next. It's hard to concentrate though because I'm so tired and because of the smell of freshly baked cakes wafting in from the kitchen. Current buns to be exact, like my mum used to make before a dreadful disease stole her ability and her memory. The smell is comforting and reminds me of a childhood where I would come running in from school to see what might be on offer at home; scones, rock cakes, lemon meringue or, groan...Current Buns! 'Because they're quick and easy' Mum used to say when we teased her lack of imagination that day. The very thing I tell my own children when they groan about my offerings only to find the dozen or so which had been in the Tupperware box disappeared overnight despite complaints.
I remember a mother who knitted ten to the dozen and could finish one sleeve of a cardigan in an evening while watching telly and reading the paper. Mental arithmetic was another of her gifts as was having eyes in the back of her head which we all learned to our cost on more than one occasion. Dishing up Sunday lunch for six or more, cycling to work with a child strapped in the seat behind her to drop off at play group on the way, bathing, feeding, changing our dirty clothes into a mountain of clean ironing like Rumpelstiltskin spinning straw into gold. Making bread, having a gathering of people over to share a buffet table where, if we were good, we could steal a crisp or two before the guests arrived. Prepping veg' in the morning only to rush home from work in her lunch break to add mixed herbs and gravy just so we could complain in the evening about having casserole for dinner again. Letting your friends come in even though the house was newly cleaned; and bleaching the grate outside the back door so that we could play marbles without getting germs.
The family home is full of her but from tomorrow we must begin to dismantle, label, collect and transport the heart of that home elsewhere. We must put our trust in strangers to do for her what she did for us. A lady who resembles our mum and smiles at us with vague recognition as though too polite to state she has forgotten who we are, will take up new residence amongst like minded folk. She is still our mum yet not, once a loving partner to a heart broken father she has changed roles in the play that is our lives and become someone else instead. Her smile is almost one of pity for the rest of us who cannot follow where she has gone. There is a certain calm in her demeanour as she observes our attempts to create a new kind of normal which demands we readjust our compass's and our maps.
I'm still trying to get my head around the fact that the day we all dreaded would one day arrive... is here. Her absence from the family home will only serve to brighten the beacon from her new one as we jostle for position to beat a road to her door. How she would laugh in her delightful confusion to see people with sound mind behave in such a way. How we must laugh at our own inability to let go long after she said goodbye.
What will become of us all mum, these displaced refugees you abandon in your wake? I don't have the answer but what I do have is needle and thread, some tape with your name on it and for the next few days at least - a plan.