I am hopeless at anniversaries, but then I have been avoiding my own birthday for more than thirty years. I have missed sending a card for various family birthdays over the years, but perhaps the most memorable was the year I sent card and flowers to my mother in plenty of time. A few days early I might have got away with, but sadly I had the target day exactly right, but October instead of November.
That did not go down well.
In one of those quirks of fate, probably because my partner made a random observation on the practicalities of taking kids out trick-or-treating, my mind drifted on to those many anniversaries that I so easily forget, and one that sticks.
The last day of October.
Cast my mind back to 1992. That was a mixed year of significant events. There was this woman, you see, at work, and I quite liked her, but as it turned out we were both very bad at dating, or at least highly idiosyncratic, and we had a few ups and downs. Somewhere in there, she was dealing with her father having health issues, I was coping with my grandfather having health issues, and then there was that tricky experience of introducing the new girlfriend to my family. My father’s sense of humour can be a rite of passage, if you’re lucky.
Oh, and early in 1992, some thieving ratbag stole my car.
I liked that car and never saw it again. This was at a time when I was routinely driving a hundred and fifty miles to visit my grandfather. Somewhere we have photos of his garden in Spring 1992, and specifically the untended vegetable patch, a clear indication that my grandfather was not well because in a normal year it would have been dug over, with perhaps even a few rows of potatoes already planted.
The other hint that he was not well was my mother moving in with her parents for a while to help out.
As I recall, by October 92, I had finally bought a decent replacement for my stolen car, because I’m not sure that the cheap piece of junk I drove whilst the insurance settled had that many long journeys left in it. It would certainly have been cramped and tricky on the day in mid October when I picked up my grandfather and drove him home after a spell in hospital.
On the last day in October 1992, which happened to be a Saturday, I was having a quiet evening in with the now well-established new girlfriend (quiet apart from the trick-or-treaters at the door), relaxing on my awful sofa and watching a film, probably from the video hire round the corner. My mother phoned in the middle of the movie, but that was OK, because we could just hit pause.
I’m not sure if we ever finished watching, and I don’t remember the title.
The last day of October 1992 was the day my grandfather died.
Some anniversaries do stick in my mind.
# # #
(I had mostly written this before our cat, Oatmeal, had to be euthanised yesterday.)