Tonight I have been giving MasterB some well deserved attention. He had been shut up in das Boot the whole long sunny day. The marina, empty when I left this morning (doctor’s certificate, registering Mother’s death, get her bank account frozen, seeing aunt, liaising with the boys and the undertaker) was buzzy. Among the faces, I saw a lovely couple who have boat that is a bit of a project. I waved, but their heads were down and they were working. MasterB was happy to be cuddled and interested in the activity beyond our gunwale, but not tempted to venture out. I needed to get some more drinking water and went over to the tap, waving agin at the couple. This time they waved back and smiled. I walked over. How are you? She asked. Pretty shit, I said. Mother died yesterday. Bless her, she climbed straight off the boat and gave me a hug. He stayed working but listening. I’m sorry about your mother he said. Thanks, I answered, and suddenly remembered he had met her. You tried to persuade her to drink neat gin a few years ago I said. His face split into a grin. That’s right, he said. It was in the marquee. I think I wrote about it, but it would have been on MyT, so perhaps I shall look it out when I am back in London with a more reliable connection. They left the marina taking some of my washing with them. It’s not quite the transformation scene in Cinderella, but yes, I shall have clean underwear for the weekend thanks to some very kind and generous people. They will be working on their boat tomorrow when I am collecting some of Mother’s things from the home and talking to the undertaker again.
Today’s prize for least sensitive person goes to the home’s acting manager. She called this morning, ostensibly to offer condolences, but, it quickly became apparent, to make sure we cleared Mother’s room. There is a three day allowance for this which we had counted as starting today, so have already planned it as Saturday’s activity. When we shall actually get the opportunity to stop and grieve is anyone’s guess. She seemed to be counting it from the time of Mother’s death. There is, she told me, a waiting list for the room. Good thing Mother didn’t linger; the manager would probably have been showing the relatives of prospective residents round while we sat beside the bed.
The good thing about this conversation was that it ignited a spark of anger that helped clear the foggy feeling in my brain. Most of the day I have felt as though my mind has been replaced with a bag of damp sand. I have irritated countless drivers as my default speed seems to be around twenty-five mph. It does seem perverse that at a time when I seriously doubt I should be behind the wheel, I am having to drive around the county to collect death certificates and register Mother’s death.
Aunt is pale but composed. She has been doing the bulk of the phoning to relatives in Ireland. Uncle, who is just ten months younger than Mother and still driving, is coming to the funeral with his older son. He and Mother have always been very close. As children people would take them for twins. Even in recent months she would talk about My Brother, and you would have been a fool to think it wasn’t Bill she was talking about. I helped Aunt set up an email account and she sent her first email to me. It wasn’t a very exciting message; hi, but it showed her it worked. Her next, to Uncle Bill, included an attachment, a photo of the vase of flowers in her sitting room. I hope in the days and weeks to come it will be something she learns to use with confidence.
My laundry safe on the way to a washing machine, I went back to das Boot. MasterB was alert. He was listening to the cows in the field beside us. He half lifted himself from the floor. When a cow made a particularly loud sound, he growled. I didn’t think he would get off the boat, but I was wrong. I don’t think he trusts the pontoon. He favours a leap from prow to shore that is taking years off my life. I need to get a gangplank for him. I nabbed him and out on his harness. He doesn’t like it a lt, but he seems to understand it is part of the deal to get him ashore. I may need to add some more clauses. After a sunny day with clear skies, the sun set. MasterB and I remained ashore. My feet got colder and colder. We zigzagged around the marina. I enforced my veto a few times; no going into the field; not too close to the edge; no piracy. He watched the ferals and they watched back. I kept hoping he would dig himself a toilet and spare me a repetition of the waking up I had in the middle of the night last night when he had a poo. There is no sleep possible when a confined space fills with the aroma of MasterB’s evacuations.
No toilet digging. After an hour and a half, I vetoed further exploration. I picked him up and popped him through the window of the boat. I thought he might mind his walk being curtailed, but he has been very contented since, lying on his back and purring while I ate some bread and cheese. I had planned something more substantial but I hadn’t planned on such a long walk.
I am off to bed shortly.
I want to say a big thank-you to MasterB for his patience the last week, and an equally big thank-you to everyone who has commented and given me support through Mother’s death. Please stick around. I think I am going to continue to need you.