Found and lost (and found)

I have spent the last few days clearing out my mum's house. While my wife has been cleaning and making the place look better, my job has been to sort through everything. A lot of things have gone to charity shops. One sold a box of vinyl records and made over £200, a dog rescue centre welcomed bags of cotton sheets and blankets. I've tried to keep as little as possible.

All this sorting through my parents's possessions has made me weary. It's been the emotional equivalent of being punched, repeatedly, and I've just about had enough. I keep finding remembrances of my early life and my mum and dad's life together. So many diaries, notes, photographs and keepsakes, I can barely face seeing any more.

But, as I was clearing out my dad's writing desk, at the very back of the last compartment, I found some photographic slides. "oh no, here we go," I thought, expecting yet more pictures that would quietly break my heart.

I was right, and very wrong. What I found were slides of my early years, from birth until we moved to Oxfordshire. I saw life in two houses, moments at the beach (I'm guessing Camber Sands in Kent) and elsewhere. I saw a picture of me in my bedroom, with my uncles dog, as a puppy, sitting on my lap and my mum to my right. In the background was the wallpaper I remembered but hadn't seen since I was five. I found pictures of me as a baby being held by my great-granny, a picture of my grandad and his two sons (my dad and uncle) and a picture of me with my beautiful aunt Irene, and of course me with my mum and dad.

I was hugely grateful to find these, amazed I'd never seen them before and then, with a rush of feeling, sad to acknowledge that everyone in these pictures, other than me, was gone.

Then my son wandered in and asked if I wanted to play. Best timing ever.


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