Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cheese and Whiskey

Life seems soupy just now or perhaps just broth-like but with added chunks thrown in for taste and texture.

All of us are at various stages of the current winter illness; hacking away merrily and filling our tissues and handkerchiefs with gay abandon. Tricky's latest command to us is "Blow Nose!"

We spent the weekend with my parents in Newcastle which delighted Tricky who had long given up his daily mantra of Aphwa, Poppy, Jimmy (respectively his grandmother, grandfather and their dog) and spent many long happy hours following Aphwa and cuddling Jimmy and a few scant minutes kicking a miniature soccer ball with Poppy.

My poor dad, all those years he wanted a son and now when finally he has a grandson in the same country as him, he has to stand third in line for affection after the staffordshire terrier.

This weekend I celebrated my soon-to-be-40th birthday and my how my fingers skip trippingly over the keyboard as I write that. 40 40 40... I shall have to write more on this but it will be a work in progress I fear. In the meantime there were cocktails, champagne and pizza and I lost my voice which is generally a sign that I am having a good time and in the other meantime I still have 4 days left of being 39.

This weekend also, I cut my grandad's hair. This sounds an easy enough task, after all he has special clippers for the job, but actually it's not that easy a task if you haven't done it before and his only advice is to "cut it in a line from the top of my ears" and if you express a little nervous doubt to say tersely: "a good soldier never looks behind." And lucky for me, I say.

Add to this a considerable amount of custard coloured scalp matter and a rather irritable request for whiskey and cheese and you can see the sort of pressure I was under.

I did try to strike up a sort of 'ye olde worlde barber' type conversation by saying loudly "So how bout this weather?" as the locks began to fall and to my surprise he took me up on this and suddenly we were right back to the war and the little motorised bicycles and the gas cylinder things on cars and the ration books and his wedding suit. But things went a little awry when he gave me the aforementioned shopping list as the clippers were still whirring loudly:

"I want whiskey and I want some CHEESE."

I was concentrating on flaking some unsightly business over his left ear and I missed what he was saying.

"Whiskey..and what was the other thing? Cheese"

"I said CHEESE."

"Was that cheese?"

"No, I said CHEESE. CHEESE. ARE YOU DEAF?"

Frankly it made trimming his fingernails an absolute pleasure.

My grumpy grandad who loves whiskey and cheese and who is not allowed to have either has a bookcase in prime position, set up in his tiny room at the I Can't Believe It's Not A Nursing Home. He made this bookcase himself during the woodwork group and it took him several weeks of slow careful sanding and staining and loud shouting and cursing. It holds his entire family. All of us, his son and wife and his grandchildren and stepgrandchildren and great grandchildren and distant nieces and nephews. All of us smiling and neat from our rectangular black frames which are the only kind he will allow on the new shelves.

Each week "a girl" comes and dusts his photographs and each week he tells her over and over who we are.

My granddad's life is becoming soupy too but this is a soup that gets progressively thicker and cloudier. And each time I see him and he dips in his spoon and brings up fragments of his life they seem smaller and further away.

And soon, I think sadly, it will be quite quite cold.

6 comments:

Spanglish said...

I hate seeing the ones we love growing frail.

Maggie May said...

OOHHH! Sad!
It is great being 40! Not that I am now!!!!! But I was once! :-) Life begins at 40, you see.

LL said...

oh OG, you got me big time... love this post.

Ah, forty schmorty.... it's not so bad... you'll do fine...

Betty Flocken said...

You can continue to consider yourself to be in your late 30's until the very last moment and if you want. Just stay there! :)
I'm sorry about what you're going through with your Grandfather. It's hard to watch someone who once protected and look out for us, need to be protected and looked out for.

Mima said...

It is lovely for him that he has pictures of his family around him, my room is full of photos of all the people that I love in my life, and I love telling people about them too! It is really hard to see someone who has been a powerhouse not looking so well, and it is difficult for them as well. Somehow it is the memories that keep us strong and allow us to keep going.

Nice though to have some time with your family, and I am really hoping that you can tell me that 40 is ok, I am just a couple of years behind you!!

mig bardsley said...

Dear ovagirl, I have so enjoyed reading all the posts since I last visited :) Much too long ago. thanks for your visit :) Tricky is absolutely gorgeous (still - more even).
(Oh and forty? I loved being forty.)