Digging Deep

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"Many of the things we do in life seem pointless - a waste of time and effort." Giles pays his last respects to a dear mother.


"It was a chance I had. I'm used to getting up early morning.

I was digging down to my father and I wanted it done very carefully. I lay down on the grave on top of him and the view of the sky was good. The soil felt good too and it was welcoming.

Many of the things we do in life seem pointless - a waste of time and effort. This was very important to me.

I never really knew her. We had angry scenes. But she was where I came from.

She was an only child. She was frightened and unsure, but at the same time she was wise and very knowledgeable.

Mum taught me many wonderful things: "by all means believe in God ... but roll away from the rocks, it's not only the children who behave badly"... and the doom-laden, "it's later than you think."

Within dementia there can be great wisdom which is intensified by its uninhibited delivery. Dementia can be a way out of life for the over-anxious person. I've found working with people in dementure both horrifying and awe-inspiring in turns, and, as Mum moved away into her own world, she would still give me little bits of her wisdom: "When you are children," she said, "parents teach you many things and when you're older it's up to you to choose what to remember and what to forget.

One day she suddenly said, "If you go out in the rain, make sure that you don't wear a wet cat." She looked at me quizzically.

So, as I lay there in her grave, I knew that although I hadn't looked after her as I might, particularly in her last years, in this resting place I had finally got it right."

By: Giles Cooper
Published: March 2004

An interview with the author

Please tell us a little about yourself.
I'm 52 years old and have lived in Monmouth for most of the last 45 years. I'm a Psychiatric Nurse with past background in farming, countryside work and photography.

What's your story about?
It's about my relationship with my mother, particularly over the last two to three years of her life and my reflections on our years together. This is close to my heart.

What did you find most rewarding about the workshop?
Being able to tell my story.

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