Standing in his flat right now, to collect all of his paperwork and his suit which he wants when he goes.
The flat now smells old…dusty…stale smoke. It’s eerily quiet even though the electrics are humming.
I forgot to ale a list of all the things I need to do, so now I’m just walking from room to room…”learning”. Finding out more about him, I guess.
There’s a clock ticking, and it’s really fucking loud. Too loud. For such a tiny clock.
In his wardrobe are a bunch of suits. I can see his suit jacket which he wore on his wedding day, maybe 40 years ago.
They divorced when I was 18 I think. Or 19. I don’t know. That time is a blur. I was ill.
The smell bothers me.
It’s not a bad smell. I just don’t like it. I suspect I’ll remember this smell.
I’ve taken some of the suits out, trying to figure out which one he wanted. I can’t ask him now, because he’ll accuse me of trying to kill him, and that I’ve taken the nurses side. And then he’ll start crying again, and I don’t want to cause that.
Not any more than I already have. Maybe I’ll just take a couple of the suits. Maybe the ones which seem to be most appropriate.
I put back the black one. And the beige one. It’s hideous. Actually I’ve just taken a closer look; I’m not even sure beige is the right word.
It’s 1972, is what it is.
There’s the grey pin-stripe suit. I think it’s that one. I’m certain. It has a waistcoat and everything. It’s really smart. He wore it to my granddad’s funeral last year. I wonder if he knew he might be buried in it some 18 months later.
He has 3 months left. Apparently. At best. I saw him yesterday, and the oncology team, and the consultants. He’s not eating much now, he’s too scared to, because he says it’s just easier to die, and then the nurses can’t kill him.
Night terrors are a bastard. Nightmares are a whole different thing. Night terrors…he has no idea if he’s awake or asleep. So now, whilst cancer eats at his body, his own mind eats away at his soul.
The morphine hallucinations don’t help either.
I wish the clock wasn’t so loud, how the hell did he sleep here?
I’ve put the other suits back. Shit. I need to find a shirt. Rummaging through the shirts I catch myself thinking “no…not that one…he’ll never be comfy in that one…will this one decompose easily? No, this one has no cufflinks…”
I don’t understand my thoughts these days, so I have to just let whatever wants to flow, flow. It’s easier that way.
I hate some of the thoughts. Some are vile. Some betray me. But I can’t stop the thoughts.
I’m giving up on the shirts for now.
Looking through the cupboards in the kitchen, and laughing to myself as I see plates, cups, bowls, pots, pans and more, all from my childhood. A mountain of plastic food tubs are balanced in a corner.
I meant to bring my camera.
I’m glad I didn’t bring my camera.
Condensed milk and evaporated milk fill a corner of one of the cupboards. He and my brother LIVE on that stuff. I couldn’t stomach it as a kid. Never tried it since. The smell of Tetley’s tea bags fills my nose.
On top of the microwave are tubs and bags filled with seeds. No doubt ready to plant for the winter, ready for next year. I can hear him lecturing me again on how to grow stuff. He never knew I already grew all kinds of stuff for many years.
Fridge has cans of ginger beer and nourishment, tubs of green peppers and scotch bonnet peppers, and a couple of bottles of fizzy pop. There’s a mug of what looks like oil, at the bottom.
The fridge is so loud. And so is that clock.
Walked into a tiny room above the stairs and I’ve just stopped in my tracks as I peek round the corner.
There’s a small stack of books. I recognise them all immediately.
Theres a green one, which I can just see, and on its spine I can see the words Dean & Son Ltd. I know this book without taking another step.
“Hello Mr Twiddle”
I read this book over a thousand times as a kid.
I’ve picked it up.
It’s the very same one, the one I thought I had lost when my parents split up. Haven’t seen it since then.
I feel really sick. Have done for days now.
There’s a Cannon & Ball annual (1983) and badly repaired Dandy book (1984). They belong to my brother. I’ll take them for him.
He may not remember them. I do.
I put the other books back.
My mind wanders fleetingly to the shirts on the bed.
I spy a massive silver wooden box. It’s full of vinyl records. This is the treasure. I know that there are records in there dating back to (I think) the late 60s.
I’m looking at the size of it right now, and know that I can’t move this on my own. It’s a two person job. I know there are more records here, in wooden boxes. I know where they all are; he told me. Before he started going crazy.
I need to pick up speed now; I’m conscious that I need to do the school run. It will take me 35mins to get home, and another 20 mins to get to school early enough.
I should call one of the moms.
I can’t call anyone.
I’m weirdly silenced right now. Perhaps I’m just tired. I’ve had to talk a lot the last few days.
Should have written that list.
I can hear people, family members, reminding me of the things I need to do. Bank…building society…life insurance…policies…will.
dancing through my head.
So many records.
So much paperwork.
I’m glad I have my backpack with me.
Paperwork into carrier bags. That’ll do. Picked up speed now.
There’s a guitar on top of the wardrobe. Acoustic. He used to be in a band before I was born. I don’t know if he ever played this guitar. It’s badly out of tune.
Rummaging through drawers. I feel sick. The smell is clinging to me and I keep bumping into his Zimmer frame. He used it maybe 5 times. It was all so quick.
I should move it.
I find his life policy stuff and pull it out. A photo, printed onto paper and placed into a plastic wallet, comes out with it. It’s a photo of The Mr and I, with Big Small, aged maybe 3 months. I remember the photo shot very well.
And now I’m laughing at myself as I remember my constant nagging of people to print their bloody photos already.
No one cares about photos.
I care about photos. There are photos of us, the “kids”, dotted around the flat. Hahah actual laughter now; on top of the wardrobe is the battered suitcase I took when I went to Jamaica back in 1987…’86? I was caught in hurricane Gilbert. My parents and siblings were at home; I was staying with my Granddad. I flew home by myself. I think is was maybe 7 or 8.
Given up on the shirt. I’ve shoved them all away. I’ll buy him one if I get enough money in time.
Big old briefcase.
I already know what’s in it.
I’ve opened it, pulled out a framed drawing, put it back and then closed it.
I put it by the stairs.
So many records.
Back to the bedroom to pick up the suit. Put it by the stairs. I notice my hands are dry and feel strange, the way they feel after I’ve handled a lot of old dusty things.
It’s only been a month. He’s not dead yet.
I look at the plant and wonder if I should water it.
I see more and water them all.
Spied more records. Another box.
Head hurts. Migraine.
11:30 now. I’ve been here an hour. Feels like days.
Forgot to water the kitchen plants.
Holy shit! I’ve just found a clock from the house where I grew up! It’s gold and reminds me of the sun. Though now, 30 years later, it’s more like a star.
I’ve taken a photo of it.
Don’t know why.
need to go. Head hurts. Feel sick. Head HURTS.
I loved that clock.
Another cupboard. More records.
I change my mind about dealing with the records now. Just paperwork today.
Last look in the lounge.
Photos of The Smalls, and my nephew and niece.
His biggest regret is that he won’t see them grow up. He told me a few weeks ago, before bursting into tears.
Put the guitar back on top of the wardrobe, put the chair back.
Turn off the lights.
Turn off the power.
Time to go now.
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