Swallows on a line

10 Mar

On 9 August 2021 I wrote:

New design!

Way back in January when I found the smock and decided to embroider it Mum came up with the idea of swallows swooping over the back yoke; and across the front I embroider them sitting on the washing line.

The parent swallows do this under the car port as they take a breath before feeding their babies. And when the wee ones fledge, they first sit on the washing line before taking their first flight.

Mum never drafted the design for me, she’d given up drawing. We now realise that she was already coping with dementia and I guess her brain could no longer put the images on paper in a way that would satisfy her. The design was created by my nephew, Max, when he was last visiting and the swallows were feeding their babies.

Your bonuses today are the Graham sisters. Mum is one of four sisters. We don’t have many pictures of them all together either as children or adults, so it was lovely to find these two.

I’ve struggled writing much recently, in fact I’ve struggled doing much of anything of any real value recently, which I think is ok. Though only ok for a short while – but it’s been a long winter, and perhaps Spring will do its magic and perk me up a bit?

I know that I’ve been experiencing anticipatory grief for more than two years now, and while most of the time it is now cope-able with, there are times when it is overwhelming. But that is the nature of grief. And grief is a response to love. And I will always be grateful for that fierce (though mostly unspoken) love.

When Dad died, it was relatively sudden – he had a serious stroke and a week later died in hospital. So we’d had a bit of time to prepare ourselves for his death, and when it came it really did feel like a relief, as the alternative (him making a slow and partial recovery) felt considerably worse. And although his death broke me for a while, I knew that the worst had happened, that in time I would find a way to sit more comfortably with his loss, and also with his life.

Over the last two years, as Mum’s health has deteriorated with dementia, I have come and gone in her life. We live 100 miles apart, and once she was settled in a care home I returned home, visiting her initially for a week each month and then every couple of weeks, for a couple of days at a time. And each time I saw her it felt like a bit more of her had gone while I was away.

And still I knew that there was more to lose. That’s the thing about anticipatory grief – however bereft you feel each time, however much that grief weighs you down, you know that there’s The Big One coming, that dreaded day when you won’t be able to see her smile, won’t hear her say your name (or any name) again. So you focus on the relationship you have, on who Mum is each day, and you celebrate the rare giggles, the random responses to questions, the delight she seems to have when she sees who has come to visit her.

Mum hardly engaged with me at all over the weekend, but when I left on Saturday she pursed her lips and blew me a wee kiss, a memory of bigger kisses she has blown me in the past.


I started writing this series of posts here, with Taking Smock of the Situation, an embroidery project I started after I realised Mum might have dementia. There I was, embroidering her old fisherman’s smock with symbols relating to her life; while her memories were slipping away, like me at a party I don’t want to be at.

Before that I blogged about whatever I was cooking and you can find my recipes here.

One Response to “Swallows on a line”


  1. Taking Smock of the Situation | Shewolfinthevalley - March 13, 2023

    […] Swallows on a line […]


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