The Chronicles of Aunt Margaret III

T.V Presenter:

What is the minimum acceptable depth of a golf hole according the R&A. It is

A  4 inches                                           B 6 inches                                        C 8 inches

Aunt Margaret – B 6 inches. Definitely. Whenever you get a question like that, it’s always the middle one.

T.V Presenter – The correct answer is A 4 inches

Aunt Margaret pointed confidently at the T.V.

I knew it. I was just about to say that. I knew it. But I didn’t want to say it. But I knew it. I’d be great on this show. I’ve got them all correct so far.

Aunt Margaret, I replied, you said B. The answer is A

Yes, but I knew it was A.

The Chase, for those at of you that don’t know, is a British quiz show. It’s so addictive and they have great questions. You need to compete against an expert genius/quizzer. For those of you that watch it, my Aunt was exactly like The Governess. But without the cleverness, witty remarks or introvert coolness that the Governess has. If you haven’t seen The Chase, you should watch it.

They take your first answer. You can’t change it, – I continued

I’m not gonna let that presenter tell me that. I know the answer.

It was like arguing with Trump only funny and less infuriating. This continued for most of evening. She would answer EVERY question incorrectly and then when the answer was revealed, declare the question to be too easy.

That’s you second packet of crisps Margaret – my Father yelled at her

And. That’s your second packet of crisps

A doctor didn’t tell me to watch my diet -he replied

How can I watch my diet? Everyone else is watching it for me.

She let out a burst of laughter and continued to munch down on the crispy potato goodness. She really was the funniest person she knew.

Aunt Margaret had in us, a loving family. A family that, despite irritating the shit out of, she could always rely on. Sadly, she didn’t have that much luck with her own family. She had only one son, who didn’t speak to her. It was difficult to know whose side to take on that. As I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, she was sharp tongued and that wasn’t for everyone.

It was no secret that, they never spoke. Everyone knew but it was never mentioned. I think at the time of her passing, it had been 8 years since they had seen each other. His name was James, or is, I should say. He’s not dead. He currently lives in London and works for a T.V production company.  In our household, we always had a good relationship with him. But my Mum sent him a play I wrote a few years ago and asked his opinion. He never replied and then we saw a very similar one, a few months later… Let’s just say nothing more about that. But my Dad had a suggestion for why they didn’t talk,

Family stretches our tolerance limits. If you want to keep talking to everyone in your family, you have to be tolerant. It comes in many forms, but you have to forgive, move on and take a bullet. You have to pick your battles and know when to hold you tongue and know when you hold your ground. Family keeps the ego in check. Your cousin doesn’t have that ability.

It was wise words. A rare moment for my Dad. You can take from that what you want. I’m not sure I completely agree but I’m so stubborn. I’m still in contact with all my family because I live at home. If I was a successful writer, living in London, I’m not sure. I have spent a couple of years as an unsuccessful writer in London. A rather different experience.

Despite that fact that they didn’t speak, Aunt Margaret knew everything about her son’s work. This was one of MANY mysteries about her which never really made sense or got an explanation. If James had an article in the Guardian, or a radio play on Radio 1, she knew about it.

When Margaret died, it was my Mother who called him. I overheard both my parents argue over who would make the phone call. The ironic thing is Aunt Margaret would love to make it herself. She loved calling people to tell them that other people were dead. It was a dramatic service that involved solid amounts of misery. But now, it was her turn to be the letter and not the postman. How should I put this delicately! We will never know if the letter was ever delivered or if the sender ever opened it. That was perhaps that saddest tragedy of all of this. But I am a firm believer that people mourn in their own ways and it is not for us to decide how or when others say goodbye. In short, we never heard from him and we would love to.

As we are halfway through the tale, I supposed we should talk about how we found her. It’s hard to inject humor into this as it simply wasn’t funny. She always fell asleep on her armchair with the T.V. on. She had an armchair and T.V. in her bedroom and at night, she would go in there to watch it. The T.V didn’t connect to anything, but it has a DVD player in the back. She would watch Love Story over and over again. Not EVERY single night but if the T.V was on, that’s what she was watching. Side Note – Amazing movie. Seriously. Such a classic.

It was normal for myself or my parents to go into the room around midnight and switch the movie off, as she lay in the armchair snoring. We never woke her. She didn’t like it. She would usually wake herself up at some point and the bed was just beside the armchair. On Thursday night, March 19th, I went into her room and turned the T.V off. I’ve spent so many nights accurately trying to remember if I heard her snoring or not. But I simply don’t know. I obviously didn’t think anything was strange. The next morning my Mum found her. She said she knew when she opened the door. The room just seemed colder. She passed away in her red armchair, packet of crisps in hand, watching her favourite movie. On the wall next to the T.V, there is a picture of her own parents.

In the grand process of life, certainly it was not the worst way to go, but the shock and not saying goodbye, is really what stays with you. I should have spent less time making fun of her and more time learning from her. The remaining events of that day seem a bit hazy, except for two events. One, as we’ve discussed, my mother’s voice messages to Aunt Margaret’s son, James. The other was cleaning her bed. She had a packet of crisps under one pillow and half a Mars bar under the other. The chocolate had kinda melted into the sheets. My mother and I looked at each other and laughed

Feck you anyway Margaret. I’ll have to handwash that now to get it out.

My mother laughed to herself and then it quickly turned into a cry.

I don’t care if I get that stupid virus. We shouldn’t have left her in here for 3 days. I can still see her little face in the window as we handed her trays of food it. It’s a horrible way to go. It’s like she was in prison.

I didn’t agree. Margaret had internet, a phone and the radio. She had her own bathroom and went for walks around the garden for those three days. But this wasn’t the time to disagree.

You know what really sucks about this whole situation? Is that you can’t fix anything. I handed her food through the window and I knew was desperate for conversation with anyone. By that stage, she had been here a week and was kinda getting on my nerves. I would hand her the food and leave. I would pretend that I was talking on the phone and I couldn’t stay and chat. I wasn’t talking to anyone. I was just feeling a bit weird because I lost my job and was worried about money. I just wasn’t in the mood for talking. But I can’t fix it. I can’t talk more now. It’s like the credits of the movie have come up before the story has actually finished. That’s it.

I suppose all we could do, was make sure she had the best funeral ever. Which, I think we managed to achieve. It was after the funeral that all the trouble started.

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