Following in the footsteps of the lovely and immensely talented Nike Sulway, I will be regularly posting 300 word snippets of memoir in order to push myself along with the writing of my next project which is a collection of short memoir.
I was sheltered from death from a young age. When I was six I woke up one Saturday morning to find my mother gone. When I came out of my bedroom, my dad approached me slowly.
‘Sweetie,’ he said, ‘Pop died last night. Your Mum has gone over to the house to be with Nan.’
He brought me close, and what I remember most about that moment is the stale cigarette smoke that clung to his clothes and the feel of his beard scratching against my cheek. My brother and I didn’t fight that day, or the days after. We didn’t see much of Mum that week. We heard her though, behind her bedroom door. Softly crying, sometimes talking on the phone.
A week later when there was talk of a funeral, Mum said I couldn’t go, that I was too young.
‘But Michael gets to go,’ I protested.
It didn’t matter, Mum had made up her mind. On the day of the funeral, Mum and my brother left early in the morning. Dad took me to the movies that day. We watched Angels in The Outfield at Bankstown Square and went for ice cream after. I might have cried during the movie, for our loss, or just because it was a sad movie.
I didn’t understand at the time – and perhaps, still don’t – how to experience death second hand.