Remnants of the past …

remants of the past


Apologies for being bit quiet on here lately. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. I just finished working for a government department I have been at for seven years and now am in the middle of going through my dearly departed ma’s things.

Yep, Dad is moving on and selling the family home. A home that has been ours for over thirty years. It contains all our childhood memories, our joys and heartaches. It has gone from a humble ‘ex-govie’ to a suburban ‘castle’. It was mum’s work of art, especially the gorgeous garden. Mum turned this massive clay waste land into an oasis over the years.

Mum enclosed the front verandah into a beautiful sun room when my eldest son was tiny, because she wanted a toy room for all her grandkids to play in. During this construction phase mum got the news that she had a stage IV GBM brain tumour, which claimed her life 15 months later. I have shed many tears in this toy room, as mum had set it up with all the toys and books she had been collecting over the years for her grandbabies. All she wanted was to be Nanny Jilly and she built up this home with only that in mind.

It has been around 18 months since mum passed, and I totally get while dad is moving on. It is a family home and way too big for one man. It also must be incredibly hard living amongst all mum’s things. Still, it is a emotionally laden time, and going through possessions is another piece of the process. My sister and I had already done mum’s clothes soon after she passed, as Dad asked us to, but there is still a lot left.

It is weird what ‘things, stuff, items, knickknacks’, can take on meaning when they have been attached to a loved one. Having them around brings me comfort and kick starts conversations with the kids about Jilly. “Jilly gave you that toy Leo”, “let’s read one of Jilly’s books Ari” or even “don’t you break that! It is Jilly’s and very special” are all things I find myself saying.

This is one of my most prized possessions. Since I was a little girl I would beg mum to make gingerbread man cookies. I would help her roll out the batter and cut out the yummy dudes. I even made her make some for my wedding ...

This is one of my most prized possessions. Since I was a little girl I would beg mum to make gingerbread man cookies. I would help her roll out the batter and cut out the yummy dudes. I even made her make some for my wedding …

Our wedding wouldn't be complete without my favourite treats baked by mum :-)

Our wedding wouldn’t be complete without my favourite treats baked by mum :-)


However, you just can’t keep everything! I’m constantly trying to get closer to a slow living household, and I’m getting better at keeping my hoarding tendencies at bay. So what do you keep and what do you let go of? Here are a few things I’ve done:

I love wearing mum’s clothes (well the ones I can fit in to anyway). It is so comforting. I also keep a pair of shoes at the back door, they make me feel like she is visiting, although she never did take her shoes off when she came over and it would drive me nuts! HAHAHA

Toys and kids’ books
As discussed earlier, these are the hardest items to pass with. They are a huge connection for my boys and my heart often breaks when they use them because I wish they got to grow up with their Nana Jilly, a woman who would do anything for them and cover them in love.

I wear some of my mum’s pieces including two rings every day. Mum had great taste and I love wearing them.

Crockery, china and vases
These are probably the most common items along with jewellery, handed down from mother to daughter through the generations. Mum had A LOT of this stuff and due to being under pressure for the quick selling of the home, my sister and I had to make quick decisions regarding all these items. In the end, we divided the stash as follows:

-what my sister wanted to keep
-what I wanted to keep
– what we thought our Aunties (mum’s sisters) would like to have
-rest went to a friend who is going through a divorce and setting up a new home

I stored my boxes in my garage, for another day when I can take my time and decide what to bring into my home and what to pass on. I have vowed to use all of the fine things I do keep, as it is such a waste to only have beautiful items hidden and unused behind cupboard doors.

This process has honestly left me quite glum, especially finding mum’s diaries where she wrote about her battle for survival. However, I know by keeping and using her ‘things’ is just another element of keeping her close to us. I feel like 2015 was all about survival and 2016 is all about new beginnings. This process of cleaning out mum’s things is just another stage in the journey.


How about you? Have you got an item/s of a passed one you hold dear? Let me know by leaving a comment.

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  1. Oh i love reading this post! Its so sweet and heart breaking at the same time. I think all of the things you are doing are perfect ways to remember your mum.

    PS. Congrats on the new job!

    • Thank you so much Mel, I’m truly glad you liked it. Thanks also for the well wishes regarding my new job!
      Start on Monday – eek! 🙂 xx

  2. Oh Ems, this post made me so teary. You remember Jilly in such beautiful ways, she was such an amazing woman.
    When I was 5 or 6 and didnt know any better, I asked my Granny is I could have a special brass box from her mantle when she died. (It was a gift from the queen to the soldiers serving in the 2nd world war).
    True to her word, she made sure that box came to me on the other side of the world, and I treasure it. After the kids, it’s what I would grab if there was a fire!

    • Wow Kirsty! How awesome that your dear Granny remembered that you asked for it and left it to you! That is so special and precious! Hehehe, it is funny how we say things like that when we are young. I told mum when I was kid that if she died I bags her gold bracelet that looks like a snake and she did leave it to me! 🙂 xx

  3. I was fighting back tears. It’s only now with mum that I can begin to imagine what you have been through. Mum has given me little things over the years like a crystal jewelry holder that she got for her 21st. I know I’ll also cherish it no matter what happens.
    Thank you for your stories. I think it’s so important to talk and hear about this and I know your posts will help others xx

    • Oh Chrissy, now I’m fighting back tears thinking of what your gorgeous mum and your whole family are going through. Remember that I’m ALWAYS here for you guys. I actually dropped off a little something for your mum today at your Aunty’s house.
      Thanks babe, I think it is so important to share as well and that is why I do it. Our culture shuns these kinds of topics and creates unhelpful taboos.
      Love you xx

  4. I love this post Hun! You are sch a strong woman and I have no doubt that the past 18 months has been the toughest of all. Keep this strength going for those gorgeous boys. Their Angel nana Jilly is with them and you always!! Xx
    You’ll do great on Monday!! Your awesomeness translates wherever you go xx

    • Thanks so much Sarah, your kind words mean the world! Yes, our kids are our saviours, as they force us to keep going even if we would rather wallow and stay in bed!
      Thanks also for the encouragement, I sure do hope I make a good impression! xx

  5. It was lovely reading this article Emma, I can understand Jon moving on, too many memories of Jillian.
    Everytime I call over I’m waiting for my sister to appear and that gives me a little ache in my heart. I know she is around at all times, and that was her greatest wish to be a nanna to her grandchildren. She just couldn’t wait for it to happen. Thanks for thinking of your Aunties. Lots of love to you and family xxxx

  6. One of your best ever posts Stroudy. I’m tearing up. It must be so incredibly hard for you and your family. I love the last paragraph about what 2016 will bring. You’re nothing short of amazing. Xx

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