December 31st, 1991

December 31st, 1991

Benalmadena, Spain

Mum was mightily surprised this afternoon, when she opened the door to find me standing there.

“Happy Anniversary!” I exclaimed, attempting not to drop the bag of Duty Free goodies, as Mum lunged at me for a hug.

“Tom! Tom!” She yelled. “C’mere!”

Dad was out on the balcony, his face turned to the sun.

“He can’t hear you, Mum, the door’s shut.”

“Och, yer a wee rascal,” she chuckled. “You should have told us you were coming.”

“Then it wouldn’t be a surprise,” I said, removing the bottles of Champagne and chocolates I bought at the airport.

“Ooohh,” Mum cooed, pointing to the cabinet behind me. “Glasses are in there. Did you just arrive?”

“Uh-huh, the flight got in at half two.”

“Did you get the train?”

I nodded. “So easy isn’t it, and really inexpensive. Plus, you know me, I like to people watch.”

Mum squeezed me tightly. “Dad will be so happy to see you!”

“Looks like you’ve been enjoying the sun,” I said, just as the Champagne cork popped, making Mum jump. “Gets me every time,” she laughed as I filled the glasses, the bubbles fizzing away.

“The sound of celebration,” I said, keeping an eye on Dad as we crept in his direction.

Slowly, Mum opened the door and stepped outside as I remained out of view.

“Och, Champagne, now that’s fancy,” Dad said.

“Aye well, it’s no every day you celebrate twenty-five years of marriage,” Mum uttered, as I peered out to see her leaning in for a peck, before handing the glass to Dad.

“Where’s yours, Liz?”

“Right here,” I said, stepping into view.

A look of what I can only describe as astonishment flashed across Dad’s face. “Ya wee rascal,” he said, shooting up, wrapping me in a hug.

“That’s what Mum said!”

“You’re meant to be in New York.”

I shook my head. “Sorry, that was a white lie.”

We raised our glasses and clinked them together.

“Happy Anniversary to my lovely Mum and Dad, and here’s to many more!”

“Thank you, hen,” Dad smiled. “What a brilliant surprise.”

“Certainly is,” Mum said. “Oh, and Happy Hogmanay.”

“That’s right,” I said, looking at my watch. “Only eight hours of nineteen ninety-one remain!”

“Here’s to my two favourite lassies,” Dad said. “Here’s to us.”

“Here’s to us,” Mum and I echoed with another clink.


November 27th, 1989

November 27th, 1989

Glasgow, Scotland

I usually love coming to Scotland on the train, but today was just awful. Mum barely uttered a word and she stared out the window the entire time. Five hours felt like days.

We caught a taxi from Central station and when we pulled up outside Nana’s building, mum started sobbing. With the taxi driver’s help, I managed to get her out of the taxi and up the two flights of stairs. Where else but in Glasgow, would the taxi driver help in that way?

Things got progressively worse once we were inside, where mum’s sister and brother were arguing so much they completely ignored mum. Within minutes of our arrival, I could feel my blood boiling but I knew better than to say anything that would no doubt only make matters worse.

Mum looked exhausted when I finally got her settled on the couch and I was really concerned about how she would handle tonight; when most of the family showed up. I really do feel like an outsider when I’m around this lot. Nothing about their behaviour makes sense to me, nor has it ever.

I kept myself busy tonight, making tea and sandwiches for the older generation and watched the younger ones drink too much and sputter accusations that would be better left unsaid.

I don’t think it’s hit me yet that Nana is gone. I keep looking at her empty chair by the window and I feel so sad knowing that’s where she took her last breath. Dad explained to me that Nana suffered from something called Hypertension and that she died from a heart attack. He said it would have happened fast and that she wouldn’t have been in pain.

Mum has gone to spend the night with her brother and his wife, which I think is probably for the best.