In the After
Yesterday I talked about what was.
Today I shall talk about what will be.
Bloody hell, I don't even know where to begin.
I guess, first, let me present you two songs. I discovered this group, ShadowIcon, while wandering YouTube trying to find some music that I thought was appropriate and wasn't Within Temptation:
And... this one I like a lot:
Sorry, I don't do "happy" tunes. I never have.
Today I will be going to collect mom's stuff from Le Tauvrais, and seeing her body in the morgue at Pontchaillou. Not that I want to, but I think I will be given some sort of certificate of death. This I take to the Mayor of my little commune, who will begin the formal process of registering the death. Then I will need to talk to the ambulance company that dealt with mom, the other side of the office is burials. Perhaps a little morbid, but I guess in rural France, those who need an ambulance will often need a pallbearer.
Then comes the insanity of changing all sorts of things. The electricity, phone, and land/house tax ought to be fairly simple - I already pay those so it ought to just be a change of name. The house insurance will need to be changed to me. The car insurance can lapse. I think that's about everything that is of importance?
In this country at least.
There's the DWP to notify, and the NatWest. And... um... I have no bloody idea. I'll just notify them and hope that works for the UK. I can't do it now because I'm sure everybody will want death certificates to prove that she's really dead and that I'm not some random weirdo.
I think the Mayor will want some certificates. I've not been able to find a birth certificate, but being adopted, it's "complicated". I have my birth certificate, and my father's death certificate. Of course, all of this is in English. I don't know if that'll be acceptable or if it'll be another pain. I would hope not, we've lived here 17 years, it isn't as if the Mayor, and the one before, don't know who we are.
There's a load more bureaucracy to talk about, but I think I'll worry about that as and when it happens. Mom had no will, because the one made in the UK was very outdated so she asked the bank (the appointed executors) to discard it. Under French succession law, I as the sole surviving child inherit, and as that was what she intended she didn't see any reason to pay to have a will written to state what would happen anyway.
The funeral will need to be attended to. Mom had a book with notes in it, but I cannot find it. Mom's filing system was bizarre (even compared to mine) and I think I've found everything but. It doesn't help that I look at something and burst into tears. I found the "Chèques Vacances". This summer we were going to go to Terre Botanica (near Angers). I was going to surprise her with a year-long open ticket because I thought it was something she'd really enjoy.
I have chosen, if they play any music (I don't know what's "done" over here) Peter Paul and Mary's "Blowing In The Wind" (yes, I know it is Dylan, but they did it better). I think that sums up her approach to life. Be laid back but assertive, and change the world little bits at a time. I know that she wants a very simple grave with a tarp stapled down, no massive marble edifice. Plus, she doesn't want a headstone, just something small and simple. It isn't because we're paupers, it is because the creation of marble stuff is horrific in ecological terms. That's also why she wants a very basic coffin, preferably made of wood from a sustainable forest, and doesn't want to be cremated (pollution). Mom was very big on ecology. Just wait until I tell everybody not to bring bouquets. An explicit wish was that people who bring flowers bring flowers that they've picked in the wild. Okay, granted, there isn't so much at the turn of September into October, but looking outside there are california poppies and... look, mom really believed in ecology, so she'd be perfectly happy if people brought whatever they could find, even if it's some tasteful clippings from a willow tree.
In the short term, other than starting the death registration process and the funeral, I will need to get a car sorted out. I don't drive. I have never driven. I know the basic of operating a car as the most I've driven in my life is taking the car around front to wash it (and back again). I also know the basics of driving - the car goes on the right, and you do not have priority ever, they do, even when the sign says they don't. Doubly so if the registration département of the car is 53 or 75. Expect them not to have the slightest concern for other road users...
Luckily France has a "toy" car in the form of a Voiture Sans Permis. They are hideously expensive as they are aimed at a captive market, so I'll be looking for a used one that hopefully won't break the bank. I'm going to meet a dealer, hopefully one evening this coming week (god, as if I don't have enough to do). But, for those asking why I don't get a licence and drive the C1, the answer is simple. I need a car now, not in some random future date when I pass a driving test. Also, I would like to get some experience driving a car that ought to be reasonable safe. They max out at around 42kph flat out, or for you imperial guys, that's 26mph. Yeah, you can laugh. I've had a bicycle going faster than that (Mendip Hills, teenage stupidity, and maybe a dash of beer - I didn't win the race but I did avoid wrecking my bike at the bottom!).
I am going to keep the C1, I do plan (however it comes to pass) to try to fit driving lessons around my work, once I'm more accustomed to being a road user, with the eventual goal of passing my test and being able to drive a real car. Because I too like the area between Ancenis and Clisson, it's so pretty. Can you imagine getting there in a car that does 42kph? Well, I plan to do it - I've been stuck here since late July so once I get a car I'm going to get out more. Try to formulate some approximation of a life instead of talking to a person that isn't there and crying when I realise what I've just done.
In the medium term... I like it here. I like my job. I guess I like the people I work with too. I know that sounds a bit vague but I'm an introvert so I never really made much of an effort to mix with anybody. I went to a few 'do's that various people put on and were nice enough to invite my mother and I (yes, my mother came along). Invariably there were a lot of in jokes that neither of us understood, and much alcohol being consumed. Please forgive me, but my idea of a nice evening is a comfy chair, a good book and a mug of tea or hot chocolate.
Of course, it means I'm very alone right now. I guess the thing that hurts the most is that all of this was a big adventure that we were both on. We both looked after each other. Mom pretty much raised me alone since my father failed at being a father, a husband, and a human being. He died young. So mom was already strong, but she levelled up and did it herself. Even as I was quite an obnoxious shit as a child (part of that being that school bored me, part of that being that I was hyperactive, and I'm probably "on the spectrum" but that didn't exist back then). I got better, and when mom decided it was time to leave the UK in 2002, she gave me a choice. She'd try to do what she could to set me up somewhere, or I could come with.
It wasn't as if I needed any time to think about that one. I came with.
We didn't agree on everything all the time, but our choices and preferences were remarkably similar. Right to the degree when we'd be driving by and we'd be like "wasn't that a lovely garden?" and we both know we were talking about the same one. Mom was traditional, but had a lot of good sense and wisdom. When I had a problem, she would give solid advice. And she wasn't the slightest bit bothered by Brexit, rationalising that there was nothing she could do, so just let it play out and happen as it happens. I, obviously, disagreed with that stance, but took comfort from her tranquillity even as the news on the radio got dumber and dumber. At least, she died a proud European. I don't think I'll be as lucky.
We just talked about stuff. Work recently had a big day and we all got promotional T-shirts. I know mom would have found it amusing and she would have told me that I worked there forever and finally got the T-shirt.
Long term. I have no idea. I don't know if I'll stay or go or what. I'm not even going to think about stuff like that. Just going to pretend that it doesn't exist. I no longer have the one person who would give me common sense and wisdom.
Now. Now I'm writing all of this because I have nobody to talk to and nowhere to go. I've tidied the front a little, harvested the carrots she planted (and cried), and dug away a section of where the grass is growing over the driveway. Little by little I will get that tidied up. Then I came in here to write this, and it's not even half five yet. I'm writing this on Sunday. Everything is a day off because I wrote two different things on Saturday (the photo montage in the morning, the "history" in the afternoon) but didn't want to put them both together. But, time... It seems that in this state the days go on forever. The past days (since her death), I've taken a sleeping pill and gone to bed at 9pm, sleeping through until six or so.
I hope there are no big bugs in my software because I have no plans to do anything with that. Maybe in the future, but... I don't know. There are going to be changes. Something that I regret is writing "EBook" because I mostly did that while in denial about the state mom was getting in. I believed that she'd go to Le Tauvrais and they'd get her fattened back up and eating again. If I thought enough to realise that it was too little far too late, I would have just... sat and talked to her. About whatever. I can't undo that. I know she was trying to hide it from me, but when I'm feeding her and seeing to her other needs, it's hard to hide what is obvious. I guess I didn't want to believe that the end was near. We kept this up for her first week up in Rennes. I'd phone her after work and we'd talk about stuff as I walked around town (the person who takes me to work finishes around 6.30-7pm, I finish at 4.45). We'd talk about all sorts of things. She'd suggest meals that I could make easily (as getting home that late, I don't have much time or energy for cooking). Right up until the weekend when she stopped making sense. We both blamed it on the morphine, but in hindsight it wasn't that, it was her brain finally giving out as her body ran out of nourishment and energy.
I'm also sad that I started to write a book. A science-fiction story. Some of the beginning was written while waiting for mom to have her PET scans at the Eugène Marquis cancer centre in Rennes, but most of it was written in the three weeks of my summer holiday when she was being mistreated in hospital. She knew I had written over 90 pages, she saw a laser printed copy of how far I've gotten. But because her concentration was waning, she never read it. I know she would have had plenty of good advice, and as a person who found plenty of flaws in other people's books, she'd have made a good proofreader to query anything that I might have overlooked.
I would like to think that she'd have enjoyed the story. I'll never know. I'm about halfway through, should I even bother to finish it? I don't know.
It also disturbs me, as a person with an emotional range that goes from "meh" to "whatever", how much and how many things make me cry. And I mean full-on crying. I don't think I've cried like that in my adult life ever, and now it happens several times a day.
I gave up watching a comedy Saturday night on Prime Video. It just wasn't funny. Nothing is.
I can thank Mick for the text to add to mom's epitaph: Voici une etoille brillant. She was. She so very much was.
All I hope...
...all I hope...
Is that I was a good son. That she was proud of me, that I made her happy.
I wish I could have done more.
This hurts so much.
I've never felt anything like this.
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