Stop All the Clocks

28th July 2015

There is so much to do.

We go back to the Hospice in the afternoon. We collect Dad’s pathetic parcel of possessions: his pyjamas, his wash bag, his one slipper, his watch. His gold-plated Omega. The watch he brought back from Saudi in the 1970s and of which I was in complete awe. ‘My dad has a GOLD watch.’

We sign the green form which gives permission for his body to go to the crematorium. We listen as we are told that a doctor must sign a medical certificate, that there will be no need for a post mortem, that we should go and see a funeral parlour as soon as possible. We are given leaflets, information about the government website, ‘What to do after someone dies‘. We need a death certificate, the Will, the Lasting Power of Attorney for Mum. We should phone the bank, close his accounts, put everything in Mother’s name. All this is explained quietly, respectfully, slowly. Yet there is so much to take in.

As we leave, I glance through the door into the en suite and see Dad’s shower gel on a shelf: ‘Alive and Kicking’. I give a small smile, thinking Dad would chuckle at the irony. Or perhaps he had bought it on purpose, as a smack in the face to the idea of becoming a one-legged man. After his amputation there had been a few occasions when we had laughed together following the thoughtless use of expressions such as ‘they haven’t got a leg to stand on’ or ‘you’ve put your foot in it now’.

I look down at Dad’s watch and see it has stopped. 06.56. A minute after he died.

We go back to the house. It is quiet. So quiet. My niece and nephew have gone out with their dad.

‘The clocks have stopped,’ my sister says. ‘Mum’s watch had stopped too, did you know? She asked Marina to get her a new battery before we left her.’

If only time would stand still. I need more hours than one day can provide to do all that needs to be done.

Stop all the clocks . . .

‘The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.’

I want to draw the curtains and sleep and sleep and sleep.

But there is so much to do after someone dies.



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