Two Weeks 7th Dec – 21st December
Gerts is here and he’s not here. The house is emptier and his room is silent. No electronic hum, no blue light and shelves gathering dust. The pictures of his ‘boys’ on the walls of his study no longer look down at Grandpa. The car port looks huge now that his car has gone. Vitamin C bulk packs say he is gone. I say ‘He is gone’, all the barrels of vitamins, the scattered apricot kernals and the quack supplements say ‘gone’. The old wheelbarrow with the punctured tyre says gone. So too the dead tomato seedlings and the empty shelves in his poly tunnel. His shed, crowded with unsorted stuff, hanging with cobwebs says ‘missing in action’. The horse radish is out of control and needs lifting. The juicer in the kitchen is clean and silent. I haven’t bought soy milk for over a month.
The blocks have been removed from under the dining room table. He needed them for extra height to get his wheelchair in close.The position of the table no longer reflects his need for navigation space. Two armchairs are back in position for the same reason. I have removed the digital clock from his bedside table. The house has a sterile neatness with an overlay of my current slovenliness. The funeral flowers have been binned after the recent heatwave, but not their droppings. The Sympathy Cards are unanswered and lying where the gusty cool change blew in and scattered them.
Last week, I followed the bereavement booklet ‘s list, ‘People to Notify’. It helped to have a list to tick. Yesterday I took scissors to his medicare, pension and credit cards. It felt like a crime. And why should I return his passport to the passport office? I am also keeping his wallet and his drivers licence.
I still feel strange informing people of his death. It sounds like I’m lying! A huge presence in my life has disappeared but to the world and the universe it is less than a speck of dust. Life like Nature is largely indifferent and inexorably dynamic. I will be swept up in it when I want to be sad for longer. He deserves that. But already I am making plans, effecting slight changes. I am a single now for Health Cover, there is only one car to insure, one name on the bank account. I changed all the policies! Not just in name but to different companies with cheaper rates. Tomorrow I take possession of my new car and I have bought a new standard lamp for the lounge room without his input .
My habits are changing too. I get up early in the morning and stretch with some yoga poses and go for a walk in Victoria Park. It is such a wide open space and the trees are grand. I poked around his shed today and found his ‘medicine chest’ of emergency tools. The drill and the driver, the drill bits and the screw bits. I found the chargers and the lithium batteries that click in and out. I had man help putting my new wheelbarrow together and replacing the leaking tap. I started the whipper snipper by following the instructions on the stem. It took a man to show me where they were! I took to the compost with a fork and carted it in the new wheelbarrow to the cleaned out bed and despite hot weather on the way, planted out the seedlings that have been on the verandah for a week.
Images of Gerts failing body still come to mind and I have taken to kissing his photo, something I have not done before to any deceased person in my life. And I love to dwell on his face in those last days when he could do little more than raise his hand to caress my face. The staff told me that they noticed how, in all his time with them, his face lit up when I entered the room. I also know it lit just as brightly for the very kind breakfast lady! He did take pleasure from the people around him.
Tomorrow I take possession of my new car. What fun!