There are so many things my mother never talked about. One of them was money, so it was quite a surprise to me, as her executor, to learn that she actually had some. Since she never talked about it, I was also surprised by one of the charities she made bequests to. The British Heart Foundation made sense – she had a heart condition – and likewise the diabetes charity, but the one that initially puzzled me was Cancer Research UK, because I saw no immediate connection. There didn’t need to be one, but the other causes she supported were things she had had a close association with, so I expected something.
Of course, illness was another thing my mother never talked about. Yes, she would tell you all about her glucose levels, how the latest pills were doing, but she only ever mentioned her own health. She skipped over Grandad’s health twenty years ago, yes he was quite ill so she was staying with her parents to help out, but that was about it. I knew he was ill, in a subliminal way, because his vegetable patch wasn’t dug over – the first time in all the years I was old enough to notice – and he looked short.
I don’t have any good way to describe it properly. Grandad was taller than me and broad in the shoulders, but now he looked short. My mother did say he wasn’t feeling well.
What my mother avoided mentioning, discussing or otherwise bringing out into the light of day was that Grandad had cancer. Some months later I took the umpteen hour drive down again, and saw him in hospital a few weeks before he died – he looked terrible, but he was being discharged and I drove him home. Just being away from the hospital perked him up and by the time I left at the end of the weekend, he was looking good. Of course, no-one was mentioning the C-word, let alone the terminal diagnosis.
I’m sure I must have worked it out, but I wasn’t telling myself either.
So, I shouldn’t have been surprised by any of my mother’s bequests. They all touched her.
Nine months ago, I was asked if I would like to contribute a story to a charity anthology and I agreed. It seemed like a good idea, supporting a worthwhile cause, and there it was again, Cancer Research UK.
I wonder what my mother would have thought? She didn’t really talk about that sort of thing.
OMP Admin Note: Mark Huntley-James writes science fiction and fantasy on a small farm in Cornwall, where he lives with his partner and a menagerie of cats, poultry and sheep.
He can be found online at his blog (writeedge.blogspot.com), his website (https://sites.google.com/site/markhuntleyjames/), and occasionally on that new-fangled social media.
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