I’ve lost my Gran.
She’s still there,
I see her every Sunday.
She still sits in her favourite chair by the fire,
which is always on, even in summer,
because she says she’s cold.
Sometimes when she sees me, she smiles,
asks how I am and how my friends are.
We natter about the neighbours,
gossip and giggle.
We play her old wartime music,
sing along together
even though I don’t know the words.
But sometimes when she sees me she’s confused,
doesn’t recognise me,
calls me the wrong name.
That makes me sad.
Sometimes she’s scared of me, and that’s worse.
Thinks I’m a doctor come to put her in a home,
or a thief after her jewellery and nick-nacks.
Sometimes she shouts and swears,
has tantrums and throws things,
kicks and scratches, bites.
Then I don’t recognise her,
and that breaks my heart.
I’ve lost my Gran.
She’s still there, frail body in her favourite chair.
But in her mind she’s gone away.
I’m in my room doing homework.
and I hear
raised voices in the kitchen,
the radio being turned up,
footsteps on stairs,
wardrobe doors opening,
clothes hangers scraping on rails,
zipper on suitcase,
thud of case hitting wooden floor,
front door clicking shut,
wheels churning up gravel,
I can’t concentrate now.
My homework blurs, then smudges.
He didn’t even say, “Goodbye.”
My dad didn’t come home from work today.
Two men in dark suits knocked our door,
and mum cried.
The newspapers said he was a hero.
They said he was brave, saved lives.
They said he should have a medal.
My teachers said he was a great man,
and that I should be proud of him.
I am proud.
But not for the reasons you think.
I don’t know your brave-heroic-medal-earner.
I’m proud because he was my dad.
Because he read me stories when I was little.
Because he put plasters on my scratches.
Because he tickled me till I screamed for mercy.
Because he never missed my school plays.
Because he let me wear make-up.
Because he never approved of my boyfriends.
Because he helped me with my homework.
Because he believed in me.
Because I always knew he loved me.
You can keep your brave hero.
I’ll keep my memories of the real man.
My Grandad died.
I only saw him last week.
The doctor said he was getting better.
His newspaper is still open on the table,
and the air still smells of his pipe tobacco.
It’s as if he’s just gone out of the room.
He’ll be back soon.
He was supposed to watch me grow up,
and go to university;
be at my wedding;
be Great-Grandad to my children.
I hate him for leaving us.
I was supposed to visit him the day he died,
but I was too busy.
If I’d gone, maybe I could have saved him.
Dad keeps crying.
He’s never cried before.
I don’t know what to do.
Mum just stares into space,
I want to talk to my Grandad about it.
But I can’t.