Thursday 31st May 2012
OF MY immediate family, most are female: my late mother, three sisters, two daughters, three granddaughters. My father and son have both died.
I’ll often walk and occasionally cycle through the countryside on my own, but going alone to the pub or a cricket match has no appeal. Since Gaius’s death, over eight years ago, I have found more solace and ease in the solitary life than I ever expected, but, goddammit, I miss him terribly, every single day.
He taught me how to write a computer programme, regularly beat me at chess, kick-started my career as a writer, rarely lost his temper, loved family and friends with selfless devotion and tender grace.
Among my cherished memories are the games of table squash – like ping-pong, but incorporating the walls, floor and ceiling – listening to John Peel by a snug, winter fireside; the ‘convoy’ of his cycling mates; he and his wife wok-cooking Chinese food; how he teased life, naming it ‘a clums’; the luxuriant curls, quiet voice, wry smile.
Occasionally I go back to his writing: holiday journals, a folder of poetry. Underneath the neat, witty pieces he wrote as a teenager, are the grim outpourings of his illness, hastily scrawled and screaming with anguish. They bring no answers, only torrents of pain and sorrow.
“I once felt completely happy,” he told me, of a day spent in France, where this photo was taken:
Today would have marked the start of his forty-second year.
I can imagine him, sipping home-brewed real ale, delivering an off-the-cuff remark about life, the universe and everything. And then we would share a hug before bedtime, father and son embracing the clums of a deepest bond that lives still within my heart.
Here, in his honour, is one of Gaius’s poems:
Memories or the Present ?
Which is more important ?
Or the present ?
For the present
Is but a split second.
But memories that last
Are all in the past.