It has been some weeks now, since my grandfather died. Months, actually. April, May, June, July makes four. Add another two to that for hospitalisation and the hospice, we may accept six months of being on my own.
The being on my own is OK. I actually like it, being one of those people who exists outside the natural order of the world, being an Oracle and therefore destined to observe and comment upon the world rather than being a true part of it.
I have been bugged for some time about getting everything sorted out, and for two months I refused because as long as there was even the shadow of a maybe of a possibility of him coming home, it would remain his home as he remembered it. Since then, I’ve stalled for various reasons. Mostly because I just couldn’t be bothered.
Today, I cleared out the bathroom cabinet. It’s not something I ever used, because I kept all my stuff out of his way. I found denture cleaning stuff, practically –
And now there’s an old Poirot on, and some bird is singing the Kashmiri Love Song, which is featured in The Sheik, which is the last ‘new’ motion picture Granddad and I watched together… The first time I saw Valentino and therefore the moment I fell in love with Valentino. The song Rudy sang himself, the one shard of his voice that remains for those of us who came along far too late. The woman in question is a better singer that Rodolfo (ie, she can actually sing) but it means nothing to me. For all the can’t-sing, it’s still dearest Valentino. If I close my eyes, I can picture perfectly the moment I first saw him on screen, sitting, crosslegged in the sand, cigarette in hand and deciding fates. There he remains, sometimes Arabian, sometimes Russian, sometimes Italian, sometimes Spanish and even once English. Sometimes a terrible man, sometimes an excellent one, sometimes just not all bad… but always Valentino, with his lazy-eyed, entrancing stare and the look in his eyes that says “Don’t take it all too seriously, because I’m not” and reminds me of Errol Flynn. I was too late for him, too.
Anyway, back to whatever. I found a complete, never used Givenchy Men toiletry set that he didn’t seem to have ever wanted and some Imperial Leather soap. I found silly little things that were somehow meaningful simply by being his. Most everything has been thrown away, of course, and I feel emptier for it.
One day, I shall open my eyes, and nothing in this flat will really be of him anymore. I suppose it’s how it should be, and a memory of his smile or the remembrance of a trip to Fortune Street Park will be all that remains. I know it’s the way the world works, but these days if I ask someone ‘all right?’ they answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or ‘meh’. Nobody has answered ‘half left’ for so long, and I yearn for it, I suppose.
I have always been too late. I have always felt like I am trying to catch up. Whether it’s to catch up to the much-mentioned Morrison, or Philip, or even catch up as far as Valentino and Flynn, it does not seem right that here I sit now, in ‘this day and age’ when I should be in their day and age. I should be with Rudolph, older then than my own grandfather, or with Jimmy, thirty years older than I am. Perhaps I’d hate it, perhaps I’d love it. Maybe I wouldn’t last thirty seconds in the past (a foreign country, you know) with my modern ideas and expectations… or perhaps it would be home.
Of course, it’s all very well to yearn for a foreign country. You can always go to a foreign country, especially if Ryanair fly there. The past is locked off to me, always and forever. I can no more go back to the past than I could perform self-brain surgery.
Still, it would be nice to see my granddad as he once was, a handsome, tall young man with a grin. To see him with my grandmother before life took its toll on her.
And it turns out I’ve just paid fifty-six pounds I can’t really afford for a harp. A harp. Can I play the harp? No. Still, as Philip said, it’s only money.