The gardener, who’d I’d never met said: ‘No it’s not Bob, it’s Steve the gardener. I’ve got some sad news.’
Wednesday. Expecting Bob to arrive the next day for Book Club and to stay a few days.
I saw Bob’s call come through earlier in the day, but did not have time to answer it, to hear of a small event in Bobs day, which was like a mountain to him, no I didn’t have time. He left a message on the answer machine, saying that Steve the gardener would lift him over to me tomorrow. Then he added he’d found a potential border collie bitch, which he’d tell me about tomorrow when he came. I’d given Bob this task of researching and finding a female border collie pup, as a companion to Kali and because I was increasingly aware Kali was half way through his life, and when he died, the missing would be too great. In my bossy way, I gave Bob tasks. I didn’t hear the message until there was no Bob.
I’d just come in working all day in the wood, flushed with winter air, and endorphins.
‘Bob’s dead’ Steve said. He’d found him slumped on the kitchen table. And afterwards, came the thought that thank goodness the gardener was there for had he not been, we would not have known it was quick, he did not suffer, that worst dread of someone living alone. Bayard, who had turned up to start living in Bob’s home, to find Bob dead, filled in some details. So the gardener was not alone with the body. That’s good.
Every in-out moment chain links back to him. At book group he was to choose the next book. I so missed his voice his view on Colm Tobin, his chapter Barcelona, on sex, his Irishness. The rest of us appeared too light weight.
He was to be here now, for his birthday today, his 71st. The soup I made lies cold waiting, the sausages he loved in the fridge.
Oh the plans come like waves. To find a place for him here in Halesworth, for us to go on trains to London, to Norwich Cinema City. Who can I discuss Trident, or the oil geopolitics with? David Bowie’s life and death? Who will read my Open University essays? Who will I turn to when diagnosed with breast/skin cancer? And there I was thinking I was supporting him!
I walk down stairs, Bob was alive when I took off my Wellington boots, and is dead now. That strange mysterious event in our lives, when we die, no longer exist, are silent. From one moment to the next, all change.
People talk to me, but I cannot hear what they say. These people are still alive, not him. Events happen, refugees freeze at borders, but I feel no contact or connection.
Les was here. He’d come to see the film and stay the night to go to the planners tomorrow morning. I began the unravelling with Les, a stranger to Bob, who listened to my stories, of how we met, our adventures, our fights. What was the film? God knows. I remember walking in upstairs, with a double scotch and ginger bought by Les, deliberately not buying a ticket, and carrying in a forbidden glass. A small rebellion for my anarchistic friend.
1 thought on “Bob”
The gardener’s name is Stephen. He was so much more than Bob’s gardener. He was Bob’s friend, especially in the last few weeks of Bob’s life. Stephen , who was concerned about Bob living alone, had made it his business to drop by and see if Bob was OK, needed driving anywhere, needed some company. He would take Bob out for a pint. Just be a friend. Stephen was caring for Bob and did so without any expectation of benefit for himself. In the end he was the last person to be with Bob, alive, and dead for many hours, He deserves a name. It was a shocking experience for him.
His name is Stephen