As if it's been six months.
I'm sat appreciating the analgesic effects of bonjela, waiting. Waiting to see whether my stomach can handle the meagre bits of toast I've partially consumed. Dressing-gowned and coal-eyed, surrounded by last night's dessert bowls, the Red Book, some chamomile tea in my special mug, a pen, and the aforementioned gel and its discarded box. Also, the orange and pink shoes that have some fans and bidders. Maybe I will make some money after all.
Today is downtime. After the funeral yesterday, I think it's needed. Two people now have attributed my illness (physical, don't be like that now) to the stress and or upset of the last few weeks. Personally, I think the fruit cider was evil. I only had one bottle (!) ... I don't know. It's probably not something that's possible to find out. But again, I have some time out from - well, just people, really. People and sameness. Time to remember my Nana's garden in summer and the books I read there, the ivy and the holly (no wait, let me finish) and the rhubarb in the secret part and that shed. The mini shrine to my Grandad's hands and thoughts. I wonder whether my nana's been in it lately. I remember that smell, the projects, the Things We Weren't Allowed To Touch but sometimes were given demonstrations of, in that lecturing but overwhelmingly proud loving concerned way he had, wanting us to be competent, able to deal with the demands of life, a different life to the one he had, but one that required the same moral stability and forthrightness he posessed and dearly hoped he could instill in us. And later, the dominoes, beggar my neighbour, paper constructions, silly jokes, the smell of tobacco and tea and the sound of radio blip-blip-blip-blip-bleeep news in the background, the orangey kitchen, the newspaper stains on the table, the huge pads with the logos of companies we didn't know anything about, but that were part of our visual everyday, brought home for us to draw on. The smell of permanent chunky markers, the ones that were really bad for your health. I remember a song on the radio making me cry once. Thunderbirds and mixups on a Thursday, and fish and chips once a week. Tea at Nana's every Saturday. Makeshift sprinklers for us to run through, constructed by resting the garden hose on a spade embedded in the lawn. He had cultivated it, but didn't care about swingball holes and clefts made by garden tools, as long as we were laughing. The bits of watches and things belonging to my brother, placed like very important talismans on a table next to the bed in the small room, 'his' room, home to many others before. And although these things haven't been routine for a long time, they're still very present in the way I think... summer is always the garden there. Permanence is symbolised by his seat in the greenhouse. Every time I'd go round, he was there, with the radio again - until later on, when he didn't go outside any more; it took too much physical effort.
Lucky really that my dad threatened to tell my nana he was still smoking, or we wouldn't have had him as long as we did. Still. Hard to accept that someone would still be around, had it not been for a habit he had. I remember his frustration, briefly showing sometimes, when he remarked that he used to walk miles in the lake district, his legs were fine, his appreciation of the outdoors was fully formed - just his lungs weren't up to it. He used to just refer to it as 'this' - "if it weren't for this".
I'm glad I saw him in the end, glad I went back on the Sunday again, with my dad and my brothers and my Nana. We talked, Dad remembered a daft story about chicken breast and chicken legs, but he'd remembered it wrong, so he and my Nana sat and untangled it together - I have no idea whether my Grandad was aware of any of it, but he probably wasn't. I think if I hadn't I wouldn't have accepted that there was no turning back, his body wasn't capable of keeping his mind alive, and all those thoughts, and memories and skills, all the things we didn't know yet, the ones we never could. But we all have pieces of him to take away with us. My brother said, the day he died, that Grandad taught him so much. My little little brother, who's taller than me now, and better at things too, and braver. That recognition helped me a lot. I have a desperate need to make sure we hold everything, now, I keep reminding him of little things. I can't do it on my own, I'm terrified of forgetting. But there are others, lots of other people who knew him too, so it'll be alright. I think now it's my responsibility to gather together everything I can from people, about him, so it doesn't get lost.