Fire and Snow


Unhurried, it swirls, rising and then sinking lower than in it was before. It seems too casual to make a cold blanket, yet the ground becomes increasingly white. Please let me be snowed-in tomorrow. Let the roads be impassable.

If I do much more, I fear I might end up throwing all of my possessions out of the window onto the garden below.

When they ask me why I did it I’ll tell them they are no longer required. If they mention the damage to the flowers, I’ll tell them that they are no longer required, either.

I’ve spent weeks trying to clear my ex-partner’s house on my own. He died a couple of months ago. My son lived there and he’s been given notice to quit as it’s a rented property Paul has felt incapable of making any decisions about what to keep and what to discard. He didn’t want to let anything go until he’d decided, so I’ve been stuck.

Finally it reached a point where I had to take over the decision-making, so my daughter and her fiance drove down to help, over the weekend, . We took some stuff to a charity shop, and we brought a lot over to my small flat. Laura and Dave have been wonderful. I don’t know what I’d have done without their help. I don’t even drive.

On Saturday night we had a massive bonfire. A sofa, three reclining chairs, two leather armchairs, a king-size bed and a lot of other items were burnt to a cinder. It wasn’t my idea, but I was beyond caring.

That was to be the end of my duties. They have to be out tomorrow. Paul’s girlfriend’s father had agreed to hire a van for today and tomorrow, collect the things they wanted to keep, and put them in his storage unit. He was also going to dump what was left over.

I had a premonition that they would be let down. I was right. Kristi’s father isn’t going to help after all, and they can’t use his storage unit, either.

My nephew and sister-in-spirit have kindly agreed to step into the breach. We have nowhere to put the cooker, fridge, freezer, washing machine, a large chest of drawers and their bed, so I’m hoping the landlord of the house we’re clearing will agree to let us store it in the shed outside the house. The place will have to be gutted before it’s fit for new tenants, which will take a while.

We’ll collect their clothes and personal items. I’ll have to somehow find space for them in my flat until they are rehoused. It’s a good thing I’m a genius when it comes to space-saving. I spent today neatly packing what I already have of theirs into the smallest area possible (this includes and Ikea chest of drawers, two Ikea cupboard units, two tall shelf units, a large coffee table and some smaller pieces of furniture), and separating what I think they won’t need.

My living-room sofa is piled up with bags of goods to be delivered to Oxfam. Under the window I have boxes of tools which I hope to find a home for. By tomorrow evening, I doubt that there’ll be more than a narrow corridor between my bedroom door and my bed. Owing to Paul’s mental health issues, the council are legally bound to rehouse them, so from tomorrow night they should have temporary accommodation. I hope they get rehoused soon.

Until I spoke to my nephew, about twenty minutes ago, I was almost at the end of my tether. I was afraid to allow myself to cry. If I gave in to it now, I might never stop.

It appears – as always – my mental health condition must take a back seat; I’m a mother.


©Jane Paterson Basil


30 thoughts on “Fire and Snow

  1. Oh dear Mother Jane, you remind me so much of my mother again, she’d do anything for us siblings to help us out of any pain, no matter how hard the strain. I so hope your pile of problems dwindle soon, so you can be nearly normal again, and wishing these events don’t leave too much of a stain. Lots of comforting hugs to you dear Jane, sorry I’m not close enough to shelter you from the pouring rain…. xx

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    1. Thank you for the rhyme, Ivor, it made me smile, not that smiling is difficult tonight. I have a huge grin on my face, My lovely nephew has been so much help today. He had to leave us at 5pm, to go somewhere. We were still hard at it, trying to get the place clean. I don’t think my ex hoovered upstairs once after I left him eleven years ago. I was horrible. We finished just before 7, got the last bus back, and celebrated with a Chinese takeaway, then Robbie came back and drove them to their temporary accommodation – a travel lodge hotel. We even found free storage for two months – my ex’x landlord is allowing us to us the shed outside. He’s been very kind.
      I’, exhausted, but happy xxx

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      1. Well done Jane, you sound pleased and satisfied with your days efforts, and your nephew is a gem. Ah, that exhausted but happy feeling, means you’ll rest well this evening. Oh, and I do love a good feed of

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        1. It’s not often I get a takeaway. I’m generally pretty tight – or rather broke, but they deserved it. Paul and Kristi have gone off to their hotel room happy and excited for the first time in ages. I’m glad I had a part in it, and that Paul no longer has to live with his dad’s ghost xxx

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                1. Whatever life threw at me, I used to just keep hard at it, never taking a rest, but I’m past that stage of my life now. I’m booking a hot stone massage for sometime next week xxx


                    1. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to it – I’m still sorting through stuff, washing everything I’ve brought here (it all stank) and finding find places to put it all until Paul is re-housed. I need a couple of days relaxation before I start decorating my daughter’s wedding cake, which is a fairly major operation.

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                    2. Reading between the lines, I’ve a feeling your more comfortable with life this weekend, and that you’re looking forward to events coming up. I can nearly see that pleasant smile on your dial. xxx

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    1. Thank you for your kind thoughts, Sarah. It’s 10 o’clock at night, but the sun is shining for me. We got everything done, and the landlord is allowing us to store my son’s furniture for two months. He should be rehoused by then. It was exhausting work, but satisfying in the end.

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    1. Yes, I do, but as my nephew, Robbie said, “It doesn’t matter that we’re fed up with your family being so useless; if something needs to be done, and they can’t so it, we’ll do it for them.” He’s been fantastic today, and so – finally were my son and his girlfriend. We got at least two days work done in one – the place was filthy. We also obtained free storage for his possessions for two months.
      I’m smiling from ear to ear tonight; we did it.

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  2. You did mention a while ago you were – um, busy. I can’t recall the word you used. I so relate to this – my sister had similar issues with stuff her husband had collected over decades in two MASSIVE sheds when their home was sold. By then he was incapable of helping, and as stuff was being binned, he was in the bin throwing it back out! Then she had another clear out of stuff that had to be kept when they sold again to move interstate. Now that he has died, she still has a small shed full of things to sort through. It has spurred me on to start decluttering at home – bit by bit. At least I am not under any pressure to do that except my own. I spent two hours this morning on just one first aid cupboard that was crammed so full things fell out when the door was opened. It was an enlightening clean out – one bottle had expired its Use by date by 24 years!! I was tempted to keep it just because – but no, out it went. I do hope you can get all the stuff moved out soon so you can breathe and own your own space again xxxx

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    1. I can say it now – the past couple of months have been horrible. I’ve stayed every weekend in that filthy, run-down, freezing house from Friday until Monday. There’s been so much to do, and I’ve done it all on my own, except when Laura and Dave came down. Paul has been almost catatonic with grief, depression and cold, unable to let anything go. Today, he’s pulled himself together and worked like a Trojan, along with Kristi and my nephew Robbie. We got everything done, celebrated with a Chinese takeaway, and now Robbie’s taken them to temporary accommodation – a nice, warm Travelodge Hotel. They feel happy and safe for the first time in ages.
      I dreaded today, and it’s been hard work, but good – exciting. Paul and Kristi can move forward now.

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        1. I’m feeling confident – and looking forward to Paul, Kristi and me cooking and eating together until they get a permanent home. Paul is a good cook – he prepared lovely meals for us over the weekends, in spite of being in a freezing cold kitchen. I think it was almost the the only thing that kept him going.
          I still have a lot to do – I have to fit all their cooking implements and food into the kitchen, and other boxes and bags of stuff that they wanted to keep in reach. It’s a bit of a squeeze, but I’m happy now that we’ve cleared the house. xxx

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          1. Know what you mean about squishing stuff in. Although we have a big house, when Marc and Shalini lived with us, they had their cooking and food stuff in the kitchen as they mostly looked after their own meals. That was the deal. The kitchen was chockablock full and they ded up buying a bigger fridge for themselves as ours was way too small. When they moved out

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  3. Hi Jane. What a terrible time you’ve been having – sorry I missed this post when it went out. You poor thing, having to take on board all of that. It’s hard when the person who should be dealing with a situation just isn’t capable of doing so – we’re having it all the time with my mother in law now. It puts an extra strain on those who can.
    As you’ve been quiet on here for a few days, I’m hoping that you’re holed up in your flat, eating Paul’s cooking between endless hot stone massages and cake decorating!
    All the best dear Jane x

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