I’ve just returned from a late ten day summer holiday – it was lovely, thanks for asking -and, as usual, I approached my first post-break visit to Mum with a little trepidation. My last visit had been a tough one, for her and me. Mum had fallen into the bath while waiting to have her hair done. She’d cried and I’d wanted to cry, watching Mum helpless and distressed.
Any concerns were misplaced though. Mum was pleased to see me when I found her sitting alone in “the quiet room” at the back of the home. Mum seems to spend more and more time on her own these days. I think she finds the general hubbub (is that how you spell it?) of the home too much at times.
One of the greatest pleasures of going away is having time to read. It’s an opportunity to catch up on new releases by favourite authors and sometimes to read books I feel I should have read many years ago. This time, I finally devoured The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. My best mate, The Boy, had enthused about it for years and far, far from the Oklahoma dustbowl, I tucked in. I wish I hadn’t waited so long. The story of migrants, unwanted and unloved as they seek a future far from home, should be required reading for all, especially the politicians, in our mixed-up, messed-up world.
Two sentences, among many, really struck a chord with me. As the Joad family dismantled their home to make the trip to California, they left their past, and themselves, behind. Small items prompted memories. This place had been their home. What would happen now?
“How can we live without our lives? How will we know it’s us without our past?” *
I stopped reading. I couldn’t read on for a while. Even reproducing those two sentences here have caused me to pause. Who are we, when the things we take for granted, are taken away?
Does Mum know it’s her? I wonder.
* The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck. Penguin Modern Classics. (2006)