The childhood abode of Elizabeth I. The birthplace of the Mosquito fighter bomber.
Most famous for?
The Hatfield train crash, of course.
For me. It just happened to be where Mum was. My relocated centre of the universe. My own personal Hatfield train crash.
Within a month of her diagnosis I’d moved back. To a house three doors from her and my stepdad.
I loved my flat in London. It was on The Thames. Nothing fancy. It was Woolwich after all. But I travelled to work by boat. In a very smug way, of course.
I was the bastard at work who gloated about their commute. And their on-board bar: Coffee on the way in. G&T on the way home. Fnar Fnar…
I lived with my boyfriend. He’d been shocked about the news. Of course. He was part of the family. Had been for almost ten years. Sure, he wanted to do something. Help somehow. Show he cared
But he didn’t know what to do. That was okay. I didn’t know either
When something bad happens. We want to fix it. But what if we can’t? Then what?
So he bought her a TV.
A state of the art. 40 inch. Flatscreen. Sony TV
Well. What else do you get for the woman who has everything (including terminal cancer)?
But anyway. Then, he suggested we move back.
Yes. It was his idea for us to move. So why did I end up feeling so bloody guilty for dragging him there?
Because I knew it was a knee-jerk reaction. Which I took advantage of. Said yes before he’d even finished the sentence. Never gave him an opportunity to change his mind.
Within two weeks I’d found a house to rent. Had tenants for the flat. And had even moved in.
Not bad for someone who normally has to change her clothes at least 3 times before deciding what to wear for the day.
So I took him to the Green Belt. Hatfield. The kind of place that doesn’t even have a Pizza Express. I know. And they call Hertfordshire civilised.
Mum loved having me on her doorstep. She could finally fulfil her life’s dream of knowing exactly what I was doing at any one time.
In one 5 second walk-by of our house she’d know everything. From the position the car was parked in the drive. The angle the blinds were tilted at. The perkiness of the plant at the front door.
“You were home late last night.” “Had a lie in this morning?” “I see you had pizza yesterday”
I swear she should have been a spy.
I still struggled with knowing what to do. Still fought the useless urge to try and fix the unfixable.
But then I realised.
All you can really do is just turn up.
It’s true what they say. It is the little things that matter.
Like taking her to B&Q to help choose the right bedding plants for our new back garden. Even though I had no interest. In plants. In gardens. In life outside of that diagnosis.
Like being in their kitchen early on a Saturday morning. And sharing her delight that Hoppy (their unofficially adopted one-legged pigeon) had miraculously returned to the garden after days being AWOL.
And. Like being stalked. By your mother. And that being alright.
Okay. My commute was now two overground trains. Two tubes. And lots of strangers’ armpits.
But it meant I could just turn up. And be there. For mum. Not try and fix anything. Not buy her lavish gifts. Just be there. For once. Make her number one.
So. Yes. I think my boyfriend probably regretted it. Suggesting we move. I don’t know for sure. And I can’t ask him now. He moved out 6 months later. And I haven’t seen him since.
I guess that says it all.
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