Copyright© 2012 Angharad
All Rights Reserved.
It was Sunday, the girls go back to school tomorrow, Danny went back last week. I did offer to send him to a private school, but he decided he would stay where he was and pocket the money it would cost. As you can imagine we agreed to differ on that point.
The high point of my day was going to be watching the Tour of Britain cycle race which had Cav and Wiggo riding and it was expected to end in a bunch sprint which would release the Manx Missile. He won the first stage in last year’s race and the last one. Compared to the major tours, it’s only seven or eight days but is gaining recognition as a tough competition and attracts some top class riders as well as allowing some the second string British riders to race against the big pro teams. Okay, the TdF it ain’t but it’s a good race and a chance to assess the form of riders before the World Championships the following week. Could Cav hold on to the rainbow jersey? It would be brill if he did.
I spent the morning sorting out the girl’s uniforms for tomorrow and after an early and light lunch, was doing some correspondence on the mammal survey when the phone rang. It was about five minutes before the cycling was due on at quarter to two.
It was Neil, his mother had died. If you remember she had cancer and although I’d given her a boost, she succumbed to it after a long battle. Although he was married to Gloria at long last and she was expecting, this knocked him sideways as one would anticipate. I asked if there was anything I could do? Well you do, don’t you even though you know you’re tempting providence.
“Could you look after the dormice? I’m going to be a bit busy for a week or two sorting out the funeral and so on.”
“Of course.” That shouldn’t be too onerous even with a dicky chest.
“Cathy, could I ask a real favour?”
“Of course you can.” Look out he wants to borrow some money.
“Phoebe is really upset with all this going on. Could she come to you for a few days until I can organise the funeral.”
“She gets on so well with your girls, especially Julie.”
“D’you want me to come and get her?”
“I couldn’t put you to all that trouble.”
“It’s no bother for a friend, and we all like Phoebe.”
“If you could that would brilliant—I’ll be indebted to you forever for this, Cathy.”
“What time would you like me to come?”
“The sooner the better—sorry that sounds really bad, but she really is upset.”
“She has said she’ll come, you’re not making her, are you?”
“It was her suggestion.”
“Oh.” That surprised me.
“I’d suggested our Auntie Dorrie, but she said she’d rather come to you.”
“Fine, give me a bit to change and I’ll come up and collect her—oh perhaps she’d prefer Julie to come and get her?”
“I think it might be better if you came.”
“She’s that bad is she?”
“I think so.”
“Okay, you go and pack her stuff and I’ll get myself organised—I’ll ring when I’m about ten minutes away.”
“You’re magic, Cathy. Thanks so much for this, I’ll really owe you one.”
“Mummy, you’re missing the bike racing,” Livvie came down to my study to tell me it was on. Looks like I was going to miss it full stop.
I asked Danny to record it for me, and then asked Julie if she wanted to come up to collect Phoebe.” She decided she would, even though she enjoyed watching the race—well she has ridden a bike, even if she’s never raced.
“How’s it going?” I asked Simon.
“Yeah, a breakaway has been brought down to just over a minute, they’ve got forty odd kilometres to go.”
“Who’s in it—the breakaway group?”
“Kristian House is the only one I’ve ever heard of. Team Sky are leading the charge.”
“Okay, I might get a chance to watch it later. Jacquie, could you make up a bed for the spare room? We’ve got Phoebe, a colleague’s sister coming to stay for a few days, her mum’s just died.”
“Will do, anything else?”
“Oh let David know we have one extra for dinner, would you?”
“I’ll go and tell him now.” With that she nipped over to David’s place in the old stables and I went upstairs to change.
“Want me to drive, Mummy?” offered Julie as we walked to the car.
“I think I’ll be okay, sweetheart. If I don’t feel up to it, you can drive back.”
She nodded and smiled. While I had more confidence in her ability than I did Stella, I was still very reluctant to let her near the steering wheel of my car, given her youth; but if push came to shove, she was insured to drive it—don’t I know it—it doubled my insurance premiums.
It took us an hour and a half to get to the Allen’s place, by which time the cycle boys would be nearing the end of the race and I’d miss the rocket launch. Cavendish is the most exciting finisher in the book—light the blue touch paper and off he goes with explosive speed and here I am driving into Neil’s mother’s driveway.
Julie had phoned, but they were still taken aback by our arrival—mind you bereavement does strange things to people. We had to wait while Phoebe finished shoving things in bags and by the time we left there, my car boot was almost filled to capacity.
“What did the funeral director say?” I asked Neil meaning about the date of the funeral.
“It’s Sunday so he can’t confirm the slot for the crem. He’ll do that tomorrow, I’ll let you know so you can send her back.”
“I can’t guarantee it’ll be me, but one of us will bring her up for the funeral.”
I hugged him and felt him sob. “It was a release in the end, Cathy. She’d been so brave, but the pain just kept on coming, no matter what we gave her. I think I might even have accidentally overdosed her. I might have killed my own mother.”
“Hey, no you didn’t—she died from cancer—you did your best for her as I’m sure Phoebe did.” I tried to comfort him while Julie was upstairs with Phoebe doing something similar I suspect.
Why do we always feel guilty when someone dies? Is it because we could have used the time better to be with them or done more for them? Or is it just part of grieving for someone you love?
I held him for a few minutes until he recovered his composure. “Sorry about that,” he said before he called the girls down for the trip home.
I let the two girls sit in the back, hugging each other while I steered the Jaguar back towards Pompey. The roads were getting busier, probably due to the fine weather but we had a bit of a shower as the sky darkened and cast its accumulated water vapour in liquid form at us.
I noticed the time was six o’clock and quietly switched on the radio and then listened carefully to the news and what I was waiting for, the sports news. I had to endure stuff about football, the end of the Paralympics and even Formula One—gas guzzling par excellence—before the bike race.
“Today’s opening stage of the Tour of Britain cycle race was won by twenty two year old Luke Rowe after Mark Cavendish fell heavily about a mile from the end...”
I didn’t hear any more, Cavendish fell, oh bugger.
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