Monday, 17 June 2019

Write-In 2019: 'Mum's Heritage' by Sue James

Mum had all the ancestry charts laid out across the dining table again.

'Did you know that my mother's side goes right back to Ireland?' she asked me when I called in.

'Nope', I told her.

'Well it's true, my family probably go right back to the potato famine on my mother's side'.

The week before she had told me that my father's great aunt had poisoned three husbands with arsenic. Nice. She'd been obsessed with this for months, digging up her 'heritage' as she calls it, finding out all about her roots. The trouble with Mum is that she is far more interested in what went on in the past than in what is going on in the present. She didn't listen to a word I said, sitting there all day long with a cup of black coffee at her elbow. She thinks I'm stupid and didn't know about the bottle of whiskey she poured into the coffee. At night she skipped the pretence, drinking the whiskey neat from the one remaining cut glass tumbler. I can't tell you when I last saw my mother eat food.

She draws charts and maps and plans and she can tell you who is related to who from way back when. She even tried to explain it all to the Bailiff while he wrestled the table from underneath her. I kept on trying to tell her but she refused to listen to me. Now she has all her maps and drawings covered in plastic. She lives out there in the shelter of the tower block rubbish chute. She doesn't seem to mind. She has her heritage to keep her company.

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