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Dec. 19th, 2008

An Update To My Last

Mum was rifling through the plastic box of prints at tremendous speed. She pointed out several of my relatives quite quickly, and a lot of them trickled by, and they were interesting, and in lots of different locations that I had not previously forseen. While she let me look at the ones she knew I'd recognise, she digged out a couple of others and was rifling through, but then suddenly paused and seemed to let a couple slip back into the box, and it was in the aftermath when she was making a cup of tea that I burrowed further into the notoriously vague plastic boxes that I only let myself gaze at occasionally.
The one photo caught my eye, it was bizarre looking at my aunties and my uncles standing outside my own house, my own garden, which was once their own. My Grandma, my mother's dearest loss, standing on a ladder, is trimming the hedge. The figures of what appear to be Jane and Janet are standing beside the fence, collecting clipped brances from the pavement, and glancing over at Grandma while she is snipping away. It appears she was quite excellent at the job; the hedge is slightly curvy and slopes in a way that seems natural but tentative at the same time. The garage driveway is gone; instead the garden extends another good ten feet out, and any instance of a smaller garage than what there is now is hidden behind another, smaller, apple tree at the back of the lawn. It drapes over onto the hedge in a way that makes me wish the tree was still there. I'd sit under it, especially in these last few days, and it could be my hideaway.

Mum is still pouring tea when I have consummated my thoughts, swallowed any lump in my throat when considering my mother's hesitations, and I am in the kitchen, bargaining with her for an extra half teaspoon of sugar in my cup. I offer to have more water, and an extra slice of wholemeal with my vegetable stew if she agrees. She does. I park myself in a spare seat after leaving the kitchen, and subconsciously observe her as I pick at my stew with my fork. I regret offering to have the extra slice of bread; I don't feel particularly hungry. I offer to find us something reasonable to watch. Mum is quietly spooning her stew up with her spoon. Upon brief silence, it is as quickly ended by conjunction of a phone call, and my mum jumps, and so do I, I always do when a phone rings, similar to how I do mentally when someone says 'I've got news' or 'Don't worry'.
It led to the erasure of a home phone from my bedroom, and constant pondering about if I wanted my cell phone constantly powered on and with me at all times. I realised I did; and for what reason I do not know, other than the knowledge I could keep it silent unless I wanted otherwise.
The winter has been bitterly cold this year, and I do not expect it to end very soon. For the weaker ones, I wondered how it couldnt be already taking its toll, and my mother's voice was very low, and I was wedging out of my seat, and my stew was totally forgotten, I nearly knocked it onto the floor. She was peering infact, I only suddenly realised, over the top of the television; her eyes seemed focused on the curtain, the phone was slanted away from her hand, a curious angle, with room for listening and no need for speech, and her knuckles were white.

Dad asked me if I could come with him on Monday. It was a rhetorical question, but I think he would have liked to hear it, and so I told him I would. The smell of hospitals unnerves me, and I was inundated with the clamminess when we hit the second corridor. I could smell beef and gravy and clean sinks and mopped floors throughout the walk but would it matter, would he eat, and he was stick thin, but he always was, it never stopped him, at 84 he was always a fighter, he smiled at us as we came to him, and I wanted to hug him, but boys dont do that, and boys dont cry either, but it's okay to say that's what they feel like doing, but I didn't say that either. I don't remember talking about myself, but me and my dad did discuss the weather, and what the new building they'd managed to find Grandad was like, and how it was good that he was in a nice ward. It was a late evening though, and it was busy, and I got grandad a cup of tea, and then held it for him, and we had to say bye to grandad, because it was busy, and the nurses wanted him to get some sleep. He told me that he'd get to see Coronation Street if they let him get home in time, and I told him that there was no rush, they show repeats anyway now, but grandad doesn't like that and he doesn't understand the repeat times. I thought I'd offer to record it for him, but I wondered if he'd figure that out. Maybe I will record it in case.
The nurse came by with medication and there was a lot, and he has to have 4 inhalers a day, and 4 other medications. They have given him heart slowing drugs because he is actually overreacting to the bacterium inside his chest. He has a heavy cough, and it sounds very much like anyone with heavy flu, except at his age he is weak, and it does not sound like he is clearing his throat when he coughs. In my mind I am willing him to cough harder, and spit out whatever it is inside that is troubling his unstable vesicles. Im not sure that will do him well either, and so I tell Grandad to take it easy, and that we will be back really soon to see him. He smiles at me as I head out of the door, and it is unbearable.

Comments

mangolove
Jan. 4th, 2009 01:49 pm (UTC)
How is everything?

Your description of the photograph was so vivid; I really felt like I could see it! (But of course I could not see it).

I know how it feels to watch your grandparents getting older and less healthy. They're slipping away. I couldn't understand a word my mother's father spoke (he mumbled Cantonese too quietly) until the last few days I ever saw him. I wish your grandfather a robust while to go yet!

I hope you had a merry Christmas and a happy new year! I had been gone for a while--I went to Hong Kong to see my family and then we went to stay at my father's factory in the China mainland for a few days but now I am back and have a working laptop; I finally have time to sit and breathe!

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