Aunt has gone from thin to gaunt. Her eyes look too large for her face. Her shoulders are blade sharp. Weariness is etched in every movement she makes. Her voice reveals the effort speaking costs her. “I know we don’t get to choose,” she said, “but I don’t want to linger.” I told her about A, and that I have to go home tomorrow as it is A’s funeral on Friday, and her memorial on Saturday. I shared memories of A that made Aunt laugh and then look sad.
Aunt’s in bed now, and I am downstairs in the guest room, a reluctant witness to the woman upstairs television tastes. Or a stupid witness. I have my ‘phone, I have my Kitsound pocket boom. Let’s Rock!
That’s better. Good old Snow Patrol.
I have told her I shall take a photograph tomorrow to send to Uncle Bill who has just had a few days in hospital. Offered the chance of early parole, he opted for house arrest. As a family we don’t make great patients. Anyway, it’s his ninety-fourth birthday on a Friday, of course he wants to be at home.
I brought some of Marks and Spencer’s kale and mango juice. It looks disgusting, like something dredged from a particularly verdant pond (Sabina’s newts would probably feel happily camouflaged) but tastes wonderful.
Aunt eyed it doubtfully when I poured a bare inch into a glass for her. But she gave it the double thumbs up, and has drunk more than half the bottle. The bad news is there isn’t an M&S in this town, and Sainsbury’s has nothing similar. Anyone planning to pay her a visit could do worse than come armed with a bottle or three.
For someone who isn’t eating, her two fridges are remarkably full. Those years of having nothing have clearly left their mark.
While with Aunt, I missed a call from a Rob, A’s husband. I called him back, and learned that A published a volume of her poems shortly before she died. So I shall be revealing her identity, because I want you all to rush out and buy it. Rob says it’s ridiculously expensive, but will be available free online. I think I have to have the hard copy.
I am to be one of a group of people who will each read one of Angela’s poems aloud at her memorial service on Saturday morning. Rob asked me if there was one I particularly liked. I mentioned Cows. He doesn’t have a copy, although I do. I described another which talks of her grandmother and great aunts. Rob doesn’t have that one either.
“Wow, she was prolific, wasn’t she?” he commented.
Apparently one of her last coherent and compos remarks was “Lucky bugger” about someone doing something she’d have liked to do.
I bet heaven knows she’s arrived.
Angela Inglis, poet, photographer and campaigner.