Her scent lingered on her clothes long after she had gone. Even now, I am not sure whether the smell of my mother’s lily-of-the-valley perfume really withstood the many times I washed her powder pink crepe de chine blouse, with its tiny glass buttons, or whether that aroma — the one she wore for going out — was so associated with that garment that I smelt it anyway.
The blouse was one of few items of clothing I kept when, after her death at the age of 50, the contents of my mother’s wardrobe were bundled away.
The last time I saw her she was leaning back on a pile of hospital pillows, her face bloated from medication, her conversation disjointed. The cancer in her brain had sucked out her intellect and humour, so that the woman in the hospital bed bore no similarity to the woman who had been by my side for the first 25 years of my life.