FOND FAREWELL: Keith Hillman
When my mobile rings and I see my friend Rosey’s name on the screen, I know to hold the device a couple of inches away from my ear to lessen the pain of her shrieking greeting! But yesterday it was different. I heard nothing. At first, I assumed she’d pressed a wrong button and cancelled the call; she’s still not completely got the hang of her fancy new Apple Pip’ as she calls it. I pressed it to my ear and heard seagulls squawking, so it seemed I was still connected. Then a sniffing sound and I realised something was wrong. “Rosey,” I said, “What’s the matter?” Silence.
”Where are you sweetheart?” I asked.
“At the beach” she whispered, “At Grandma’s beach hut”.
I told her to stay there and wait for me.
When I got there I found the door to the hut open, but there was no sign of Rosey. The tide was out, and the broad expanse of sand was glowing orange in the setting sunlight. In the distance I could just make out the silhouette of Rosey, sitting at the end of a wooden groin, staring out to sea. I made my way over to her, and as I approached she turned to look at me, her face expressionless, her eyes red and swollen. She said nothing; she climbed down and started walking slowly in my direction. Then suddenly she rushed at me, flung her arms around me and started sobbing uncontrollably, her face buried in my shoulder. I decided to say nothing, ask nothing. After what seemed ages, she loosened her grip, straightened herself up and wiped away her tears with her sleeve. An angry expression spread across her face.
“How could she do this to me?” Rosey spluttered. “Why did she go without saying goodbye? She could have warned me yesterday”.
It was then I realised that Rosey’s precious Grandma had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away.
Rosey had always been very close to her Grandma. Since a child, they’d always met at the beach hut whenever Rosey wanted a chat. There, she could talk to her about the things she couldn’t bring herself to discuss with her parents. Grandma was her agony aunt, her confidante and her so-called ‘special adviser’.
We all knew Masie. She was ninety-four last birthday but you’d never have known it. She came to the Bicycle Arms now and again for a drink with our group of friends. No sherry for Masie; a pint of Guinness with a whisky was her tipple! She used to arrive on her electric mobility scooter having driven it at breakneck speed swerving between startled pedestrians on the pavements. A few weeks back she was riding it through a clothing store and she got it caught on a rail of bras and proceeded to tow it out of the shop and through the shopping mall.
She had a wicked sense of humour and loved to embarrass Rosey by telling us little stories about her. Like the time Rosey said that she was looking forward to growing up so she could say goodbye to childhood and hello to adultery. Apparently, Grandma accidentally farted once and Rosey said “Grandma your poo’s talking”. And then there was the time she took four-year-old Rosey to a kitchen and bathroom showroom. Rosey disappeared and when she found her she was perched on display toilet having a pee!
Last time we saw Masie, just a few days ago, she told us of the time a young Rosey asked if a cemetery was a place where dead people went to live.
As we stood watching the ripples swirling around our feet, we listened to the silence; it seemed to say so much. I knew that when Rosey was ready to talk, she would. In the meantime, I decided to leave her to her thoughts. After a while, we strolled back towards the beach hut. When we got there she gathered up some small pebbles and arranged them on the table in the shape of a smiley face, then topped it with a few strands of seaweed for hair. From her bag, she pulled out photo of her long departed Grandpa and placed it alongside the pebble face. From the cupboard, she got out two glasses and Grandma’s not-so-secret bottle of brandy. She poured a little into each, then stood them on the table. For several minutes she stood, stared and quietly sobbed. Then she grabbed my hand and turned to leave.
Rosey turned the key in the lock, kissed her fingers and pressed them against the door. She looked me straight in the eyes, sniffed very loudly and smiled. “Hey,” she said, “We are off to the horse races tomorrow”
“Are sure you want to go?” I asked.
“Grandma would hate me to miss it. Yesterday she gave me five pounds to put on a horse called…….”
She suddenly stopped, her face dropped and she studied the shingle at her feet.
“Fond Farewell” she murmured. “Yes, it’s called Fond Farewell. It’s as if she knew”. Then she looked at me and grinned.
“She once asked me if I knew what horse sense was. She said it was the thing horses had which stopped them betting on people”.
Keith enjoys a single existence beside the sea, on the sunny south coast of England, just across the water from France. These stunning sunset pictures have been taken by him, down his alley.
Keith has been blogging for 12 years. Until recently he ran his own pubs and a bistro. Keith lets us in a little secret. He failed his English exams at school and didn’t pick up a book until he was in his 40’s! He loves to travel, particularly across Asia, and has visited various parts of India on numerous occasions. Keith says, “If it wasn’t for family I’d pack my bags and move to Jaipur tomorrow!”
Connect with Keith on Keith’s Ramblings
This guest post has been written as part of my Second Blogiversay celebrations that started on Monday, 3 December, 2018.
NatashaMusing turned two yesterday, 6 December, 2018. Yay!!! :))
A bunch of erudite bloggers are joining me in this week long celebration, with posts on my favourite genres: Musings, Photography/Art, Travel, Well-Being and Fiction. Mark the following days on your calendar and hop in to catch these soulful blog posts. You could click on the linky to the already published posts below.
Corinne Rodrigues – Fill Yourself Up: #MondayMusings
Damyanti Biswas – Is Blogging Worth It? #Musings
Robert Goldstein – Look Through My Window: #WordlessWednesday
Esha M. Dutta: – Exploring the Magical Congo Caves: #WanderlustWednesday
Shailaja Vishwanath – Why I Love Mindfulness As a Social Media Strategist
Keith Hillman – Fond Farewell: #FridayFotoFiction
Priya Bajpai – Two Down, Three to Go #Fiction