Month: May 2014
My grandfather, Paul Simmons, passed away on Valentine’s Day, 2014 from cancer. I wrote this for a creative writing subject at university; it was all I could write about at the time. Rest in peace, I love you.
‘Are you shouting at me, dead man? Cry louder, beat the windows, bawl your name!
But not a mouth could fly the pygmy strait.’
-Excerpt from Kenneth Slessor’s Five Bells.
It was horrifying.
Skin that had once been taunt and tanned now hung limp off frail, fragile bones. He was skinny; oh so skinny. Gone were the days where muscle and sun-kissed skin told the tales of a once vibrant life. Lips, once joyous, were now dry and cracked; it was clear from his gasps and raspy voice that words caused him great pain.
His hair-hair which as a child I had rigorously tried to grow with all sorts of absurd concoctions (like shaving cream and body moisturisers) by massaging them into his head-was now sparse and dull. I recall how I had stubbornly, in the way only a five-year old child could, insisted my efforts had worked. He’d always loved my attempts. The words sounded in my head as if they’d only just left his lips.
He’d been powerful once, I recalled, watching his frail, hospitalised form with sad, sad eyes. He was always kind, always a good man. He was never judgemental, he was never rude. He was my father when my real father was not around. He was one of the most important people in my life. But all Cancer had left behind was the shell of a man, once great.
He passed away on Valentine’s Day.
His body rested peacefully in the coffin. His cold, lifeless body dressed in the finest of suits and adorned with the most expensive flowers. The sweet scent of a candle drifted through the air. But none of that could bring him back.
Gingerly, I stroked his features with a mix of fear and apprehension. I saved his ears for last-the bumps on his cartilage, to be exact. As a child, those bumps had always mystified me.
I’d have given anything for him to have woken up. I would have given anything to stop the aching we all felt at his loss; the black void which seemed to suck us all in without provocation. I prayed, but no god would answer. I guess Heaven is just too far away.
He passed away on Valentine’s Day. And the world is a darker place for it.
I have come to decide I was a squirrel in a past life. Now before you judge me and think “wow, what a weirdo! Why am I reading this?” bare with me. I have a point to this, I promise.
I have Jewish heritage, and while I don’t celebrate it, I think it still affects me. I hoard money. I find spending money excruciatingly hard. Until I splurge, anyway.
Yesterday I accidently bought $123 worth of alcohol. This is not because I have a drinking problem. The vodka was on special. And it was good vodka. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s cheap alcohol; I won’t drink it. It’s disgusting, and I’m way too classy for that. So when I saw that Smirnoff Vodka was on special, it was an opportunity I just had to take. The only problem was I bought more than one. And then some. Whoops.
And it’s not like I didn’t already have alcohol at home; I pretty much have an entire bar. So why did I spend so much? I hoard. It was on special. I saw the savings and couldn’t resist.
This is what leads me to believe I was a squirrel in a past life—a Jewish squirrel with an eye for bargains. I stock my liquor cabinet as if I were preparing for hibernation.
On the bright side, I don’t need to buy more alcohol for at least another six months.