I drove to Cardiff on Friday night and visited my mother on Saturday morning. It is the first time I have been able to see her in the flesh in just over four months. This is easy to gauge because, indelibly, the last time I saw her was the day of my aunt, her sister's funeral in the run up to Christmas on the 21st of December last year. Not that mum could could get lock-down parole to attend it. I watched the live stream of the requiem with her in a room in the home. COVID, and in particular Wales' super strict regulations; then the outbreak of another different infection that hit 11 people on her floor intervened for the next sixteen or so weeks. As you might imagine, I am not minded to cut Boris any slack over Partygate.
I stayed in mum and dad's now empty house over the weekend. As I was walking down the road from it to meet my brother John and his girls for lunch, my other brother Vince drove by and stopped. He was coming over to say hello but gave me a lift into town instead. On the way he told me that, during a sentimental rummage in the house, he had come across a draft letter my father had written me, but never sent, when I left home for university at eighteen. (It is relevant that I don't think he ever actually sent me a letter.) "It's in the third drawer down on the left in the desk" I was told. If Vince had caught me before I went out, I imagine we would have gone up and got it straight away, but we weren't in the house, we were in his car.
When I got back, I just couldn't bring myself to open the drawer and look at it. I will do one day, but just for the time being, the bittersweet prospect is overwhelming. “It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”
I was up for the poignantly practical though. Putting new batteries in the smoke alarm and clock, freeing a seized tap in the bathroom etc. all the while muttering under my breath complaining - hypocritically and enjoyably - that I, rather than my siblings, was the one who had to do it.
But dad's letter, dad's letter; we still have an appointment, it is just one of the many, many that the pandemic has delayed.