The Clutter-Memorial

Nicole Price



I lost my dad fourteen years ago and was deeply saddened by his sudden death. My grief increased as the time went on as I felt his absence more acutely. It had been too long since I’d last spoken to him and I yearned for the reassurance and dependability he'd given me. In time I got used to his absence, sadness and grief evolving into nostalgia for my past life with him.  

His loss did not in any way prepare me for the death of my mother this year.  In contrast to my father, she was unwell for some time and her last month was spent in hospital as she became beyond further medical interventions. I thought that, like in the movies, with the time to say goodbye, everything would be said and my siblings and I would be left with her wise words resonating and all of us at peace. In reality, we argued with the doctors to administer more drugs and sat for endless days with our unconscious mother barely resembling the person we had known.














I know that losing parents is the correct order of life and not a tragedy, but though in my 50’s,  I feel like an orphaned child and have been left clinging to family to regain perspective of who I am. Now not a child myself, the role of mother, wife and sibling feels very precarious. I have lost my sense of certainty and history and can viscerally feel my own mortality. The grief has eroded a hole in my core that I cannot fill.

Throughout my life mum has always been my greatest fan. At various times she had the misguided belief that I was the best designer ever, the top portrait painter, the greatest (yet to be discovered) artist and I miss terribly my number one fan. She had a dedication and blind devotion that will never be matched. Mum had a never-ending capacity to listen to the minutiae of my day that I would never bore anyone else with but now the home phone barely rings and I miss that dailyconversation and contact.

Symptomatic of my inability to let go, I have filled my house with so many of my mum’s belongings. She had unusual collecting obsessions: Kitchen gadgets, envelopes, plastic bags, and scarves. We cleared her flat and found hidden treasures like my dad’s army hat, school reports and my mum’s scoring cards for the poker game she ran at her high school. Each item a memory trigger, a bond, a commemorative tribute. In actuality a clutter-memorial in which to bury myself. My kitchen drawers will no longer open and I am surrounded by boxes. It must all go.

I don’t think I had fully understood the unconditional love of a parent until I had none. I could be my best or worst self with no fear of consequences. The irrational belief that parents protect you from everything had persisted for me for far too long and consequently has left me vulnerable and exposed. I wasn’t ready to lose my mum and I miss her everyday.







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I don’t think I had fully understood the unconditional love of a parent until I had none. I could be my best or worst self with no fear of consequences. The irrational belief that parents protect you from everything had persisted for me for far too long and consequently has left me vulnerable and exposed. I wasn’t ready to lose my mum and I miss her everyday.