I find that I think about her when I'm sweeping the kitchen floor in the evenings when the kids are in bed (yes, I do sweep the floor sometimes), because she did a lot of floor sweeping. That isn't to suggest she was some kind of domestic maniac, she was anything but. She was massively committed to her career, a career that made a difference to "people who met hard times or bore heavy responsibilities (as she had done)" as her obituary said, lived her life with extraordinary commitment and courage and a massive sense of fun. She was more about dancing on tables, or Schubert's Four Last Songs, or getting married again at 62 in a Jaeger suit with a bunch of freesias and only four guests than she was about sweeping, but for some reason, that sticks. It was a gesture, a way of imposing a tiny bit of order at the end of a day of competing commitments and stresses. So I sweep the floor and think fuzzy, inconclusive things about family and loss and bravery.
She had a great sense of gesture and ritual, my mother. She lit a lot of candles for a lot of people in a lot of cathedrals, bought flowers, wore particularly chosen things for particular events. I struggle with that; most things feel hollow for me, I've written about that before. Perhaps today I should be lighting a candle in York Minster, having tea at Betty's, taking out of season mimosa to the cemetery? I'm not. I have written something about mothers for the forthcoming issue of Elle which includes a nice anecdote about her and an Equipment shirt; she might have liked that. Today, all I'm going to do is go to the office to clear my desk, then take Fingers to the hairdresser. But I will sweep the floor later.