POST FOR MY GRANDPA
[It's been nearly a year since my grandpa passed away and today would have been his birthday. Here's something I jotted down a few years ago after a family party].
It was a perfect family evening. Tons of us and tons of food. There was a marquee in the garden and all the usual chaos of a family event took place. The kids were given little missions: put this crisp on that person’s shoulder without them noticing, sneak round and touch that person on the head. Later on the kids were excited to act as bar persons, making bizarre concoctions and cocktails which they eagerly pushed on people to try. A load of us watched the world cup in one room where quips and jokes came faster than the action on the pitch. After an ice pack was put on a player one voice quipped, “Maybe I should put an ice pack on my belly after I’ve eaten in order to make the swelling go down?” It was a lovely evening. Uncle Johnny and Aunty Barbara’s house hadn’t changed even though they were no longer with us. I looked at a photo of them for a while as the party went on and felt the ungraspable, ungrabbable, unpindownable confusion of it all. Our lives, our relationships, our dreams, our emotions, our bonds. I mean, really, what the hell is going on? This life will throw us all off a cliff in the end. And the party is still going on. The kids have now found a chair that spins around and are twisting each other around like they’re test astronauts, trying to fling each other into space. I’m in the garden where the mission of creating laughter is as natural as refreshing one's toes in a stream on a hot day, or watching midges in the sky. People are sitting around. People are eating food. Babies are being held. Processions of children barge through on new missions no one could fathom. They are locked in on the magical importance of doing something wonderful now. I sit down next to my grandpa and then use his shoulder as a pillow. It’s a level of tactility I don’t think we’ve had for my conscious adulthood. And my grandma is singing like she always ends up singing. Once again My Way is her song of choice, practised and rehearsed a million times in preparation for when we do face the final curtain. We must ready ourselves for when we are flung off a cliff and be able to sing as we fall. And I eat another piece of cake. And meat. And when it’s time to go I help my grandparents out to the car with a huge procession of other people helping my grandparents to the car. And I’m holding my grandpa’s arm as his legs aren’t as strong as they used to be. And I feel the softness of the skin on his arms. And we walk under the stars of a sky as warm as summer deserves to be. And I get him into the car. And I’m the luckiest man in the world to be nearly forty and have a grandpa. And I reach in and sort of give him a hug but stop short of kissing him on the cheek. And there are loads of people in the road and everyone’s just sort of taken the party and the conversation into the suburban street. Making noise and chaos. And it’s a beautiful warm evening. And it’s great for kids to stay up late. You don’t need bedtimes when you’re learning about magic and that there’s an endless world you can walk down where there are no rules and there are no doors and there are no obstacles blocking your way. And then my dad sneaks into the back of another car - my cousin’s - and we cover him with some old rag. And then my cousin gets into the front of the car and drives off. And then ten metres down the road we hear this huge scream as my cousin shits himself after my dad jumps out on him. And it’s hilarious and we’re all laughing in the street. And as people are still talking and laughing and smiling I sit down on a wall and secretly take two stones from the garden to remember my uncle Johnny and Aunty Barbara because their house is being sold but what is a house anyway because here we are in the street and the party is continuing and may I say, not in a shy way...
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