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Brisbane, Australia
I'm an Australian author of Contemporary Romance, Romantic Action/Adventure, and Historical fiction. I live in Brisbane, Australia. Visit my website at www.noelleclark.net

Saturday, February 11, 2012

What do I keep, what do I throw away?

The haunting song by Melanie Safka, What do I keep, what do I throw away, has been playing on continuous repeat setting through my mind over the last couple of weeks.
It has been a harrowing time, having to go through all of my elderly mother’s belongings, dividing them up between my siblings and myself, working out who gave her that little green vase, which one of us gave her the little silver letter opener that she used every day of her life.   
The time had come for my little Mum to move out of her humble, yet well-loved home. To move away from her garden which she lovingly tended every day. It was more than just a hobby, she loved feeling the red earth with her fingers, cosseting her plants into bounteous beauty. Every month, she would win a prize at the Garden Club where she was a life member, for a bloom that just knocked everyone’s socks off. She didn’t try to beat everyone else with her flowers, she just liked to take them along to show everyone how beautiful they were.

It was my job to clean out her book case.  I found her set of diaries going back to 1975, the year she moved into this house. I got a shock to find that she had kept every birthday, Christmas card and mother’s day card she was ever given, all bundled neatly together and tied with ribbons that had once been wrapped around a gift. The bundles were neatly marked – Christmas 2001, my 85th birthday, my 90th birthday. She had kept every single one.
But now, like the grim reaper, I had the sad job of throwing them out. In a matter of hours, her house which had contained the remnants and souvenirs of her whole life, had been either divided up, given to charity, or thrown out. I went there just yesterday, and it was like walking into a stranger’s place. The home which had once been warm, inviting, a safe haven, a place to laugh, play and relax, was just a house. Four walls and a roof. The beating heart, my Mum, was gone from 72 Island Street. Gone, never to return, never to sit on the top step waiting for us to arrive. Never to put the kettle on to make a cuppa, to get her biscuits out for a bit of morning tea.

Mum has a new life now.She is in a lovely, fresh room with a view over a garden. She has people who can give her the round the clock care that she needs. She has company, no more long, lonely days. She will have people to cook for her, and no more washing up. The hostel where she now lives is her new home. I hope she learns to love it and be happy there.

Melanie Safka, your song is sad and harrowing. I wonder, did you write it for people like me, who have to make the most of a situation that comes to everyone sooner or later. It is a rite of passage for us all. We live, we move on. For some it is old age that causes this change. For some death, and for others the end of a relationship. We live, we move on.  But what do we keep, and what do we throw away?
The name that I have doesn't belong to me
And there's only a circle where his ring used to be
I'd like to go back to what I was once before
But I'm nobody's little girl any more

What do I keep, what do I throw away
How am I different, what was I yesterday
What can I be tomorrow, when I can't even think of today
How can I ever end my sorrow
When the night doesn't end with the day

When I look around everything seems so strange
And I don't need a mirror to tell me how much I've changed
The things I never thought I could do I have done,
But I'm too weak to stop
And much too frightened to run

What do I keep, what do I throw away
How am I different, what was I yesterday
What can I be tomorrow, when I can't even think of today
How can I ever end my sorrow
When the night doesn't end with the day

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