Hands up who else has a wardrobe in their dining room? Doesn’t everyone store clothes in the room designed to congregate together after a long day, where you swap stories over the breaking of bread?
In fairness, there are no clothes in the wardrobe – so that’s not its current purpose. But why is it there? Has the mister remembered my favourite series of books growing up was the Chronicles of Narnia? Maybe he’s planned a trip to Narnia and we’re just waiting on a magical moment to climb into a joyful Covid-free fantasy land full of talking creatures, hot chocolate and Turkish delight?
Put the suitcase back MJ, a passport is not required. No such adventure awaits. It’s just a wardrobe. In a dining room. Waiting on someone to use it or move it. Just one more of those half-finished, well-intended but not-thoroughly-considered jobs that seem to happen quite often round these parts.
Remember way back, when I explained about our cottage in which middle kid has seconded herself into my precious office to sleep? Said middle kid decided since she doesn’t actually hang up any of her clothes, the floordrobe and chest of drawers would suffice. So, out went the wardrobe into the nearest empty space, where it has remained ever since. I recently left the hoover in front of it just to see how long it would take before anyone else put it away – I then asked little kid to vacuum downstairs. She asked where the hoover was, her sister replied: “It’s in front of the wardrobe.” It is apparently now an official landmark.
I swore as a teenager I would be nothing like my mother when I had kids of my own. I was going to be a cool mum. Full of spontaneous adventures. If I had daughters, we’d start a girl gang with a mission statement aimed at aggressively supporting other women and we were totally getting jackets. Naturally, I can now hear her laughing from her celestial resting place. Positively howling every single time I utter the phrase: “Because I said so,” or – a favourite of Mary’s when dealing with teenage me – “Do what you want, you’re going to do it anyway!”
My dad, as the family breadwinner, rarely stuck his oar in. Mum disciplined when necessary and I heard him raise his voice maybe twice in my lifetime. Granted, Bob had an excellent sigh when required and reminded us daily to clean our teeth and budget.
Even after retiring from his banking career, that need to budget remained strong. I was grateful he retired before I went to university. How would explain away cash withdrawals at 2.30am on a Sunday in the middle of town? Right next to the clubs. I doubt he’d have considered chips, cheese and coleslaw, a pack of Marlboro lights and a taxi home a good investment for a poor student. I was thankfully young and stupid before there were camera phones so there’s no proof.
I’ll admit to having gotten away with more things with Bob than with Mary. He was a true gentleman. He adored his precious grandchildren who merrily got away with blue murder on the proviso they were “just tired”. If there was ever anyone destined to be a “Papa” it was Bob.
It was recently the sixth anniversary of him leaving us to join mum and my restraint over the hulking great big lump of Ikea-ness in my dining room is thanks to him. Bob had infinite patience and while I could never claim I inherited it, I believe I’m mellowing.
He advised me to “go with the flow” whenever I was upset about something. I can count on one finger how many times that ditty of advice worked. It was wise advice, however, and when I find myself becoming borderline-psychotic mum by 10am I remind myself of it.
I’m sad the wardrobe won’t reveal a magical door for him to pop through but, for now, it’s a reminder I have more important things to worry about. After a difficult week, I hear his calming voice and graciously accept everything happens for a reason – even if I don’t know what it is quite yet.