30th July 2015
It is two days since you died, Dad. I have looked everywhere and I cannot find the Will or the document you showed me three months ago, outlining all your savings and investments. I remember quite clearly how you took me into this room while Mum was sleeping and, putting on your best, slightly pompous, lawyer’s voice as you always did for serious conversations, you opened a file on your PC and talked me through the spreadsheet. Then you pulled out the bottom drawer of your desk and showed me a folder marked ‘Wills’ and went through yours with me. I remember how I stood there, my breath locked inside me, my heart flickering in my throat, my eyes hot from the effort of not crying. I remember how I forced myself to concentrate on what you were saying, and how your voice was quiet, so quiet and far away. I strained to catch hold of the words. I am not sure I did catch all of them. But I know I saw that document and I know I saw the folder.
And now I can’t find either. I have sat at your desk, feeling like an intruder, going through your neatly stored files, telling myself not to get distracted by scanned letters I have sent you, photographs and funny little stories and poems you have saved. I have not found the spreadsheet. I have sat on the floor and gone through every folder, every box file, feeling dirty, sinful even, riffling through your private papers, coming across letters to and from your brother (ever the lawyer, you have kept copies of your own correspondence too). I cannot find the Will, Dad. I cannot find it.
I have found your parents’ Wills and all the paperwork surrounding their last days and the applications you made for a Grant of Probate for them. I have found their birth and death certificates, your birth and marriage certificates, letters to and from doctors concerning Mother’s health over the years. I have found a tattered photo album your mother made of your life from birth until marriage. How she adored you. I have found the telegram you sent your parents when I was born:
13th MARCH 1970… GIRL… ANNA CLAUDIA… BORN 06:30… UNWEIGHED LOVE… MARTIN
It should have read ‘UNWEIGHED… LOVE MARTIN’, of course. But I rather like the idea of ‘unweighed love’. It sums up how I feel about you. Love unweighed. Unweighable love.
But right now I have to say I am also starting to get a bit cross, Dad. Where is your Will? I have asked friends and family and have phoned local solicitors. No one can help. Only you can. So, please? Point me in the right direction? Before I go mad.
1st August 2015
I am looking through an old folder of letters to and from your brother for the umpteenth time. I flick angrily through the last pages. I get up, thinking I will throw the whole lot in the recycling pile – and the Will falls out.
What were you thinking when you hid it in here? Did you panic in those last days at home, worried at the strangers coming and going – the social services, hospice nurses, District Nurses, carers – that someone might find it, alter it, steal it? Or were you so addled by pain and morphine and the prospect of your approaching demise that you did not know what you were doing?
Whatever the truth of the matter, you seem to have heard me crying out to you yesterday. So now I know. Your Will reflects your character and temperament: fair and just to the last letter, considerate, even-handed, sensible and plain-speaking. It was witnessed on my birthday seven years ago. Your birth was registered on my birthday too. Seventy-one years ago. I hang on to these coincidences.
I hang on to what I can, because I have lost you, Dad.