15: Grandfather – Sailing

Shortly after my dear wife died, she came to me to say that when it was my time to leave this sorry world, I need have no worries about what to do, because she would come to fetch me to the afterlife. I saw no apparition, heard no spectre’s voice speaking without a body, but I had the most intense sense of her presence and of the unques­tionable certainty of that presence. But I cannot help wondering, as the weeks and months and years pass, bringing me ever closer to that moment of transition, how will she know it is my time? Will she get a phone call? Or a letter? Or in the after­life, do they log on to a different sort of Internet? In waking dreams that come unbidden when my consciousness goes limp, or fades in the presence of sunlight or gentle music, I have seen where I will eventually reside in the afterlife, in an ordinary house, as ordinary as houses are here, only per­haps with less dust, and with paint that does not peel, and smells that do not linger any longer than you want them to. And there, perhaps each day is filled with spring light, bright and clear and cheer­ing, exactly resembling the light that filled every one of my childhood dreams (all those dreams that were located out of doors, that is) until something changed all my dreams to nightmares, in which category they have lodged to this day. So that light is important to me, not least because in reality, the real days during which it really shines, are fleeting and too few … yet despite the light, are filled with troubles that give an unpleasant flavour to exist­ence.

And when my time comes, will she buy a ticket to make that journey to find me? How will she know where I am? For indeed, there is every pos­si­bility that I will not be here any more, not here, at home, in our little house, where for all those too few years we shared our lives.

All through my adult life, I had thought that my grandfather would come to fetch me, that he would beckon me through a sort of portal, onto the cold sand of a beach as yet unwarmed by the sun of the dawning day. And there would be a little boat, painted white and blue, with a white sail, and once aboard, he would sail it towards the horizon, beyond which my new house, clean and dustless, was prepared for me. And the waves would lap at the sides of the boat, and the air would slowly warm, and I would at last feel a glad­ness about things that I have not experienced – if ever I really did – since early childhood. And in some sense, this will be the start of my life, for all that had gone before would now be seen as merely a moment’s preparation for what would be some­how more real than that.

Has my grandfather received a letter informing him that his services and his boat will not be re­quired, because my dear wife has been accorded the task of bringing me to my new life? I hope he isn’t annoyed. For all those years, I had been ex­pecting him, wanting him, and waiting. But it will be more agreeable to have my wife come for me.

Oh, there is so much that I want to talk to her about.


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