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فصل 17

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  • زمان مطالعه 14 دقیقه
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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

There is a time

Next morning, when Cindy took Sarah her tea she didn’t answer her when she said cheerfully, ‘Good morning, Gran. It’s another lovely day.’

She pulled the curtains back, and let in the bright May sunshine.

‘Come on, Gran. Don’t let your tea get cold,’ she said as she went back downstairs to prepare Sarah’s breakfast.

Half an hour later, she came back carrying the tray. She noticed that Sarah hadn’t touched her tea.

‘Come on, Gran, you’ve let your tea get cold. Let me get you a fresh cup,’ she said. But when she looked down at Sarah, she realised that her grandmother would never drink a cup of tea again. She had stopped breathing. Sarah was dead. There was a smile on her lips, and she looked peaceful, as if she had died in a sleep full of pleasant dreams.

Cindy sat down on the bed, her head in her hands, crying helplessly. She realised just how much she’d grown to love this crazy but lovely old lady. All their times together came back to her: the funny words Sarah had made up, her changes of mood, her forgetfulness, her old songs… and above all the birthday trip to Brighton.

Cindy dried her eyes with a handkerchief, and sat up. She knew she had to do something quickly. The first thing was to tell her mother. She called Jan’s office number.

‘Mum, I’m sorry, but I have some bad news for you. Gran died in her sleep last night. I thought she was asleep when I took her tea, but when I came back with her breakfast I saw…’ Cindy’s voice broke as she started to cry again. ‘Oh, Mum. Why did she have to die like this? We didn’t even have the chance to say goodbye to her properly-‘

There was a pause before Jan spoke.

‘It’s a shock for us both, I know,’ said Jan, ‘but just think: maybe this was the best way for her to die. She had a lovely day out on her birthday - thanks to you. And it seems she died in her sleep, without fear and without pain. Thank goodness for that. But, oh my God…’ Cindy heard her mother suddenly break down in tears. She soon recovered.

‘Listen, Cindy, call the doctor immediately, then just wait for me. I’ll tell my boss, Dave, what has happened and I’ll be back with you in about an hour. Don’t try to do anything else till I get there, right?’

‘OK, Mum. I think I need a strong cup of coffee to keep me going. I’ll wait for you.’


Cindy was a bit surprised to see her mother arrive outside the house in a car.

‘Dave was so sweet,’ said Jan as she came in. ‘He gave me a lift home. He was very understanding.’

“That was really good of him,’ said Cindy. ‘What shall we do first?’

‘I want to go up and sit with Mother for a few minutes before we do anything. Please wait down here. I just want to be alone with her.’

‘OK, Mum, I’ll make you a cup of nice strong coffee while I’m waiting.’

When Jan came down again, she looked pale and upset, but she smiled bravely. ‘She looks so peaceful,’ she said. ‘It’s almost as if she’s just sleeping. I half-expected her to sit up and ask one of her crazy questions… But I’m glad she went like that, without suffering.’

‘Yes, I’m glad too, in a way, but I wish I could have told her how much I loved her before she died.’

‘It’s OK, Cindy, I’m sure she knew that. You had some wonderful times together, and she went out on a high. I’m sure she knew. Right, now, where’s that coffee? We need to make a list of all the things to do.’

They sat together at the kitchen table with their coffee and a notepad and started the long list of people to contact. Death is simple for the person who dies. Once it’s over, they have nothing left to do. But for their family and loved ones there are hundreds of things to be done. The doctor has to come to write out the death certificate, the undertaker has to come to make the arrangements for the funeral and of course all the family members and friends have to be told. Then there has to be a small party after the funeral. The solicitor has to be called to arrange for the reading of the will. And later, someone would have to deal with whatever Sarah had left - the house, her belongings, the money in the bank and so on.

The list seemed to be endless, yet these things had to be done. It seems unfortunate and unfair that, just when people should be left to grieve over the death of someone close to them, they have to get involved in all these practical things instead.

As soon as they’d completed the list, Jan started to make the phone calls. It was early evening before she had finished. The funeral was arranged for the following Friday. She had just put the phone down after the last call, when it rang.

She answered it. ‘Hello, Jan here. Who’s speaking please?’

‘Hello. Can I please speak to Cindy?’ The voice sounded foreign.

‘Just a minute, I’ll call her. Who shall I say it is?’

‘It’s Giovanni, from Brighton.’

Jan called Cindy, who took the phone into the lounge and spoke for a long time. When she came back, she was crying again.

‘Oh Mum, sometimes people are so kind. That was Giovanni, from the Italian restaurant where I took Gran for her birthday. I told you about him and his dad. He called to ask me out next week, but as soon as I told him about Gran, he got very emotional. He says he’ll tell his father. He wants to know if they can come to the funeral too. He says they liked Sarah so much even though they only met her once. He says his father will call us again later.’

“That’s really sweet of them,’ said Jan. ‘I can’t see why they shouldn’t come. There won’t be that many people. Most of Sarah’s friends are dead too, and the family isn’t very big either… Oh my God - family -I forgot to call Kate.’

‘Do you think she might be interested?’ said Cindy with a bitter smile.

‘I must tell her, of course I must. I know she’s been really awful about Mother, but she is her daughter. She has to be told. I’ll keep it short though.’

She picked up the phone again and dialed Kate’s number.

‘Hello, Kate, it’s me, Jan. I’m calling you to let you know that Mother died in her sleep last night. The funeral will be next Friday. We’ll be sending out cards tomorrow as soon as I can get some made. I hope you can all come. Do you think Hugh and Caroline and Jeremy will be able to make it?

Anyway, I’ll send cards to you all. I have to run now. There’s lots to do, as you can imagine.’

‘Oh my God! That’s a shock. I don’t know what to say. I…’

‘No need to say anything to me. You know what I think of you. That hasn’t changed. Just let me know who’s coming, that’s all. And don’t bother to send flowers; send some money to the Alzheimer’s charity instead.’

‘I hope Jeremy will be able to come. Caroline’s in Brussels. I don’t know if she can get away. And Hugh… Hugh will definitely not be coming. We’re living separately now - you might as well know that.’

‘I see. Serves you both right, I expect. OK then. That’s it. Goodnight.’ And Jan put down the phone.

Later that evening, after the doctor had been and signed the death certificate (‘Death from natural causes’), and the undertaker had been in to take the body away and lay it out in his memorial chapel, Jan and Cindy sat together and shared a bottle of good wine and some cheese. They were both exhausted - too tired to prepare a proper supper. They agreed that Cindy should go back to their house, and Jan would sleep there at her mother’s. So the long day ended at last.

The funeral took place the following Friday as arranged. It was a rainy afternoon, and there were only a few people there: Jan and Cindy of course, Jan’s boss Dave (he really did seem to like Jan), a couple of Cindy’s friends, Kate and her son Jeremy, Corrie (she had insisted on coming when Kate told her the news), a few neighbours, and Giovanni and Paolo from Brighton. Jan and Kate didn’t speak to each other.

Sarah had always said she didn’t want to be buried in the earth; she wanted to be cremated. And she had told Jan that she wanted her ashes to be scattered in the garden of her house, where she had spent so many happy years before her husband died. The crematorium felt a bit like a church, but there was no religious ceremony. Sarah hadn’t been a believer in any religion. Jan and Cindy read some short poems and Jan said a few words about her mother. Then, as the recorded music played - Vaughan Williams’ “The Lark Ascending’ - the coffin rolled smoothly towards the entrance of the oven, disappeared inside and was swallowed by flames. Outside, Jan and Cindy and Kate stood and shook hands with the people who had come. Behind them smoke rose from a tall chimney.

‘Please come back to our house for some refreshments,’ said Jan. Most people started to leave the crematorium, but Kate and Jeremy waited for a moment.

‘I think we’d better go,’ said Kate. ‘Jeremy has to get back to Cambridge, and I should be getting home too.’

‘OK then,’ said Jan. ‘I wasn’t really expecting you to stay anyway. I’ll let you know when the solicitor calls us for the reading of the will.’ And she turned and walked away, leaving them standing in the rain.

Back at the house, the guests were soon in conversation. Most of it was about Sarah and how everyone had liked her, even if she had become so strange in her old age. They didn’t stay too long, and soon Jan and Cindy were left to clear up the plates and glasses.

‘Giovanni seems like a nice young man,’ said Jan.

‘Yes, I like him a lot,’ said Cindy. ‘He’s asked me out when all this is over.’

‘What did you say?’ said Jan.

‘Why yes, of course! I’m not that stupid, Mum.’

‘Of course you’re not. His dad was very lively too… a very warm personality. Such a cheerful man.’

‘And what about Dave? He seemed very worried about you. Is anything going on between you two?’

‘Come on, Cindy. I’m fifty-four years old and well past my best. Why should he be interested in me?’

‘Let’s see about that,’ said Cindy, with a smile.


The following week Jan and Kate met in the solicitor’s office. The solicitor, who had looked after the family’s legal affairs for many years, knew them both, of course. The will was in one of those long legal envelopes, which he opened with a special silver paper knife. The will wasn’t a long document. It must have been arranged by their father before he died. Sarah wouldn’t have been able to do it herself, although she had signed it. The solicitor read it out aloud. Kate got the house in Lewisham with all its contents. Jan got what was left of Sarah’s savings - about $50,000. As usual, Kate was the favourite daughter, and Jan got the leftovers. Jan and Kate signed the documents and left without speaking to each other.

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