One Of A Pair

One Of A Pair

I went to see my grandmother today. It’s been almost a year and four months since my grandad died, and I’ve hardly been to the Cottage since, but today my sister drove us down and we spent the day with her.

It was a lovely day, as she cooked us a typically enormous meal and we went for a walk and talked about people and life and all the things you talk about with grandparents, but I couldn’t help noticing.

There are still two rocking chairs in the living room. There are still two neatly-made beds in her room. There are still enough chairs for two people to sit around the dining room and have a couple left over for visitors.

But there is only one towel on the back of the bathroom door. There is only one toothbrush in the little rack, and one type of toothpaste where there used to be two. The outside bathroom is locked because she’s not going to need more than one. Our coming isn’t an excuse for her to buy lots of cake for my grandad, because he’s not there to eat it.

There are so many pairs in her house, yet the main one’s missing.

Two days after he died I was on the bus with friends, laughing at the jokes they told and acting like my normal self. One of them asked after him, and I told them what had happened. They couldn’t believe it. I told them that I thought he would have wanted me to be happy and move on and not dwell on what happened. And I think that was true, in a way. But at the funeral, it was me that went off and sat on a bench and cried into my father’s shoulder, and six months later there were songs that made me think of him and cry my eyes out.

I guess sometimes it takes time for things to sink in, and that’s certainly true of me. He was the first close relative that I lost, though my step-grandad on the other side of the family passed away when I was eleven. He was someone I saw perhaps once a year, but Grandad was someone we saw regularly. Someone who held my feet as I learned to go across monkey bars. Who came to my baptism and celebrated my birthdays.

And he was gone.

When it eventually sunk in, I couldn’t bear it any more. I think it was the sight of the coffin that really made it hit. That, and the picture of him on the funeral programme, smiling and unaware, perhaps, of what was going to happen so soon.

I went outside, and I cried so hard. And the minister came and tried to comfort me but I couldn’t listen to him. He didn’t know my grandad, didn’t know anything about him, and I… I couldn’t bear it any more.

Even now there are songs that make me think of him. Lyrics I can hear, and a picture comes in my mind of something we did together, like a trip to the beach or to the playground. I went to a Little Chef service station the other day, for the first time since the car journey I was on when I found out he’d passed away.

But the worst thing was going into the bathroom, looking in the mirror, and noticing that the same silver stand only held one toothbrush.

Clive Kilmister was a mathematician and physicist, as well as a father and grandfather. He died on the 2nd May 2010. This post was inspired by a visit to my grandma’s house, Red Tiles Cottage (or The Cottage).

5 thoughts on “One Of A Pair

  1. I felt similarly when my grandma passed away two (is it two or three now?) years ago. Though, weirdly, I wasn’t allowed to go to the funeral, and I didn’t cry apart from that one time when we first heard … but there’s still a numb spot where she used to be, and it’s taken ages for my grandad to finally getting around to sorting out her old room and redoing her old bathroom and stuff.

    But you’re right – they wouldn’t want us to mope and dwell and cry. Just as long as we keep the happy thoughts of them with us. And we’ll catch up with them someday, won’t we? Better make sure we have lots to tell them about :)

  2. *sniffles* Very powerful writing Miriam… very powerful. I’m sitting here at work, tears whelling in my own eyes for the memory of my Grandmother and the last time we saw her befroe she passed away. At least she got to watch her two great-grand children play together in the courtyard of the nursing home before she went…

    Yup… There’s always going to be that soft spot. That little bit of emptiness where their loved filler you up. But your right, you both are (Spook and Miriam), they don’t want us to mope about an be depressed.

    Like the t-shirt I got at the New England Folk Festival says (it’s now a pillow caus it got so worn as a T-shit), “Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we’re here, we should dance.”

    So dance and be merry all ye merry men! (and women…)

    *huggles to you both*
    } Cathryn Leigh

    1. I think I’m going to have to share a quote here:
      “We live to dance another day / it’s just now we have to dance for one more of us / so let’s stop looking so damn depressed / and sing with all our hearts, ‘long live the queen’//”
      I heard this song coming back from that trip and it kind of summed up this post perfectly, so I thought I would share.

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