“Should we call the doctor?” Albert, hidden behind the crowd asked.
“Out, you naïve kids! Only the elders will wait.” Uncle Boban started blocking the vision of the unwanted spectators in the back, heading them out of the room. There came a point when only I was the one present from the fourth generation of the Williams.
“Oh come on! I’m going to turn an adult in all sense, now. Let me stay.”
“Of course, Lilly darling. But there are stuff you need time to handle and learn. Let us have some space, please.” Aunt Donna, the sweetest aunt, winked at me and escorted me out of the room but didn’t quite close the door completely. My fellow cousins stared at me with a blank face and I gestured them to peep.
In the room inside, my parents along with Uncle Boban & aunt Donna (Albert’s parents), Aunt Katie (Moira and Rodney’s mum) and Mr. & Mrs. Taylor (Rupert, Emily and Sydney’s parents) were surrounding our grandma’s bed, our favorite story teller! She had been our source of entertainment right since my birth, 24 years ago. The reason that brought us in this situation is that she passed out on the rocking chair this morning.
“D’you think she’s dead?” Mrs. Taylor was the first to break the silence, quickly followed by my mom’s scream. On looking closer we saw our grandma’s hand lying still on the bed, which fell from her previous position- her abdomen. The scream that left my throat wasn’t enough to aware our parents. I’m ever so thankful for that. But Albert didn’t know these things as good as me, he rushed in the room calling out for our dear granny- Allaire. Rest of us went beside the bed, too. Soon, we were all hugging our late granny. I don’t know if it were my teary eyes or the reality but my uncles and aunts’ seemed happy, hugging each other and someone was calling a lawyer.
It all came to an hault when granny Allaire’s hand started moving, first she adjusted her thick glasses kept on the bedside table. Rodney, Albert & Sydney hugged her tight and as always she scolded them to get off her. On the other hand, the smile was washed off the faces of my extended family.
“Goddamnit, shouldn’t had called the lawyer nor the sweetshop.” I overheard Mr. Taylor mumble to his wife. I never liked him but mom always said he’s family. My doubts were clear, they wanted the will. They needed it.
As Granny woke up to the confusing mute faces of her family she plugged in her ear piece. The stupidity of our excitement became laughable, even my mom giggled.
“What’s this? Don’t you people have any work? Lilly’s wedding isn’t going to be like everyone of yours. It’ll be like mine!” The irony in her words was funny, since she married grandpa Hugo during the time when France was rebuilding. Only a decade after the second world war in a Cathedral of the children’s home she lived in. Their love story has been one of the most fancied bedtime story in my family.
“We thought you left us.” Cried poor Rodney. Handling these kids while going through puberty was a tough job for Rupert, Moira and me. Moira and Rupert are both 21, while no one else is less 8 years younger to me.
“Me? Dead? Are you insane, son? I’ve survived a war, mere strokes can’t pluck a hair off me.” Her toothless laugh is adorable. She’s always been like this after grandpa Hugo passed away. She never cried since then, at least never in front of us. She turned witty and a broad smile was pasted on her wrinkled face. One that I was seeing right now.
“I don’t like so many people in my room. And why haven’t I got a LED TV in my room yet.” There she went again.
“Sorry, mom. We’ll shift the living room’s TV in your room.”
“These eyes can still spot the mole hidden by your double chin. I want a new TV of my own. And I want it before my silly Lilly gets married.” Uncle Boban hid his face of embarrassment and we all had a hearty laugh.
“Don’t you want your Grandma to watch your wedding tape again and again on her own TV, my silly Lilly?” She caressed my cheek, which always did the magic trick to turn me on her side.
“Granny would get a new LED TV on my wedding day. It would be my gift to her, alright?” I declared and everyone nodded their heads except Mr. Taylor, of course.
“You’re the one who’ll make me proud, Lilly. Come here.” She opened her arms for a hug and everyone leaped on us.
One fine night, I was sleepless. The next day would be the big day. My wedding day. It was couple of days later the scenario of her mistaken death.
Louis and I were destined to marry. That’s what I’ve been told since my childhood. He’s Mr. Taylor’s nephew. At first I thought he would be as bad as his uncle but it was quite the contrary. He’s a sweetheart that anyone would love. Naturally, I’m happy to be with him for the rest of my life.
But leaving my granny was going to be a hurdle I couldn’t jump. Unexpectedly, I heard a knock on my door. It was grandma Allaire.
“Not sleepy today, are you?” Her voice was clear.
“You haven’t been sleeping, either.”
“Haha how could I? My silly Lilly will go away tomorrow. Who will flower our lillies?” A queer tone of sadness was laced in her words.
“Your puns never stop, do they?” There are times I’m thankful to have a low, soft voice, cause my laugh wasn’t audible outside my room.
“Hugo was like this. No matter how bad the days become, he would always joke around. People who go through dark times are changed. It can be either good or bad, it all depends on us. Thus when Hugo left us I did what I learnt from him, I became carefree. You know, how he never raised his voice on any of you even on your biggest mistakes? He was a gem of a person.” A tear. A pearl, that’s what it was worth when I saw her cry after ages.
“I’ll miss you.” I took her in my arms, she never put her guard down. She had now, just the day before we part. This is going to be troublesome.
“Don’t miss me. Hugo’s waiting for me in our wonderland” That’s all she said before sleeping. I carefully placed her legs on my bed and covered her in a blanket.
“I’ll try to.” I kissed her forehead and cuddled her like I used to as a kid.
Walking up the aisle hand in hand with my father is the best feeling ever. I’ve had only heard about it in movies and my friends gossiped about it, too. Everyone is staring at me with a smile, even Mr. Taylor. My wedding gown is rubbing on the ground like a sweeper but there’s a carpet laid so I’m careless. Louis is waiting for me, as I reach the podium he takes my hand looks into my eyes and gives his best smile. Past him, I look at my dear Granny. Dressed all pretty for the wedding of her granddaughter. She’s smiling at me and I forget about the world. Her eyes hold my world in them, her smile, now embellished with a set of teeth, is giving me strength to let go. She lifts up her hand and waves goodbye.
For a second I’m distracted by the preist who’s telling me follow his vows, but when I look again at her, she’s collapsing. It’s all happening in slow motion, her eyes are fixed on me. Her smile never leaves her face. Her words strike me now. Grandpa Hugo is waiting for her in their wonderland.
By the time we take her in the ambulance it’s already late. Louis is holding me tight like a secure wall, but I’m not shocked nor sad. I’m smiling, because I know she’s going to be happy and she wanted me to be happy. Now I know, the secret why she’s always been so happy. Because though grandpa Hugo had left us, his soul stayed with her and after today both their souls have reunited. In a distance outside the window I see a car, behind it written the words “Just married” and I imagine them inside it. Laughing, hugging and travelling to the new start of their life.
I know I won’t miss you, Granny. Because I know you’ve never left.
©The Honest Fabler
©Cover credits- Google Images