I was walking in Battersea Park the other day and I saw a bench with a plaque that was dedicated to a woman who had passed away. It was written from the point of view of her children and they’d written something like “Sit here and chat to one another, have a happy time, Mum would love that, as she loved this place.” which filled me with a warm emotion of knowing that this place brought such comfort for somebody. That another person in the world who is going through this difficult situation had somewhere to go that could offer them reassurance, and I felt that kind of warm happy heart kind of feeling for this complete stranger who I was imagining in my own head.
But not for myself.
I don’t have a special place for Mum. I can’t go somewhere specific and feel connected to her through that location. One of my friends has a bench with a plaque that sits atop a cliff on the south coast and overlooks the sea. It’s gorgeous and that area means a lot to her and her family (here is the view). I see other people visit calming places that are filled with serenity and offer that special connection to their loved one. Now whilst of course, beaches, nature spots, and forests played a big part in my childhood and I remember many, many fond times of being those places with my Mum and grandparents, I don’t feel that those places are anymore significant now that they’ve passed away. A portion of Mum’s ashes were interred into the grave alongside Mum’s father, and Krystyna (Mum and Dad’s first born). I’m glad that there is a designated space for Mum’s remains to be at rest, but it still doesn’t feel like a comforting place.
Every time I visit somewhere that I last went to with Mum and/or my grandparents, I feel a slight comfort because it’s almost like I’m stepping back in time and remembering her presence for a split second, and then it goes again. I thought maybe one day I’d have an epiphany and realise that I’d forgotten about this place and that would be my special connection place, but then I realised that I’ve absolutely got one. I’ve already got this special place and I’ve had it for years.
It’s my dressing table.
My Grandma gave me my dressing table when she was moving to a new house in 2007. I’ve had my dressing table for thirteen years. She’d had it for ten years by the time she gave it to me. Even before Grandma died, I would think about all the times she’d sat there and gotten ready at it in ten years. The chair I have for it doesn’t exactly scream glamour but it’s Deda’s (my Grandpa) chair. It’s the one he would sit in to listen to music or watch TV. After he died, my Grandma moved it into her office and used it every day. She’d sit at her desk and make/create things, and write her “autobiography” (which is incredible to read and I think my brother has plans to adapt it into a novel).
But what about Mum? If it weren’t for Mum letting me play with her make up from a very young age, teaching me how to apply lipstick, encouraging me to love myself and how I can enhance my features, I don’t think my love for cosmetics would have developed the way it did. She instilled the infatuation I have for a classic nude lip, and to be unapologetically glamorous whenever you fucking feel like it. Overdressed for what, am I right ladies? I loved getting ready with Mum, I adored being able to spend that quality time with her, just the two of us together in our own little world of beauty, sitting at my dressing table.
It’s old, the drawer knobs are falling off, the wood is discoloured and covered in make up stains, nail polish, and burns from heated hair tongs. It has scratches in the surface and there’s 35p stuck to the top because I emptied my purse onto it once whilst there was wet nail glue on the surface and I’ve never been able to get them off. But it’s so special. The little red handheld mirror belonged to my Grandma, and I have a pair of Mum’s earrings on one of my cosmetics stands to remind me of her (they’re the pink Barbie doll shoes). I’ve had chances to, but I don’t think I will ever want to get a new dressing table.