Tornado

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It felt strange,unfamiliar. The wind was rattling the windows and the leaves where swirling in circles. Eddying. Eerie. Magical. It was only later that we discovered it was a tornado. A tornado here. I thought they only happened in America. Far away. The stuff of fairy tale, of children’s stories. The Wizard of Oz. And the sound. A great howling, whistling. Ninety-four miles an hour, apparently. At work everyone was agog. Two strangers sitting in other people’s desk, shipped in from the city, no doubt, to cover the story. They spoke fast down the telephone, their voices clipped, rasping.

No wind today. A blue sky and a few spit spots on the window. I am tired. It has been full on. It makes me cross sometimes. I feel out of control. The phone rings and rings. Smile, he says, be nice. It shows in my face and it tells in my voice. I just want to be left alone sometimes. Sometimes it is just too much. And yet, I am grateful. It is not hard work, just demanding, all that to-ing and fro-ing. Twelve hours yesterday, up and down, up and down. No time to ground myself. To touch earth. To be home.

They said on the news that he didn’t approve of the scattering of ashes. Nor did he approve of ashes being kept on the mantelpiece, or as in his case, on his windowsill and in a great maroon plastic pot by his shoes. I like what I hear of him. As a Pope, he seems modest, gentle, a good man. And so, I am disappointed to disappoint him. You see I want to be scattered. I want to be returned to the air, not buried in the ground, that thought is abhorrent to me. I sometimes think of it when I walk. No, not sometimes, often times. I think about being committed to the air. Lost. Taken. Become nothing. The final scene in the film Bridges of Madison County shows her children hurling her ashes up into the sky. A marvellous gush of smoky dust, up and up then down in an elegant cascading descent. The image is slowed down, almost stopping. When we scattered Mum, forgetting to test for wind we got sprayed with the dust of her. It made us laugh. A bursting of the sadness. Afterwards we bathed in the sea. Cleaning. Cleansing. Gone.

Suffragette was a beautiful film. It still resonates in me, lingering. A beautiful lingering. Sometimes though it is too much, to witness such suffering, such bravery, even if it isn’t real. And yet, it is real. Is it not?

And the stories I’m reading. Mary Costello’s The China Factory. It got it for the title of one of them. The Sewing Room. It is a haunting. The relinquishment. So close. I hold her close.

You see, every day has it compensation, it beauty. You only have to look. I walked the Perygyl today, this morning. The first time in days. It was moonlight. I walked on white. The sky a clear Prussian blue. The wind cutting. I felt alive, luminous. Made luminous by the moon.

Two funerals. One young man, one old. One had over two thousand mourners, the other, we shall see. He will go, in his black coat. He offers lifts. He is kind. The men will line up, heads bowed, solemn. He died at home. He’d grown a little unkempt. Sleeping in a back room.

She tells me of the grandparents, both sides. We talk of dementia. Her father’s and her grandparents’ dementia. When I was three my grandfather use to whack at people with a stick, she told me. I was terrified. No one made a fuss, I just knew to steer clear. At least they were looked after, tolerated, watched over. Kept in the family. Her brother won’t be seen with them, too embarrassed, she said. It makes her boil. I could swing for him, she says. He cancelled at the last minute. Just can’t, can’t do it. She is more practical. Taking it head on. Strong. I like her. And her. Both strong women. When the appointment ends they close down. Shut. Finish. I feel a sadness then. Intimacy terminated. I understand. I do. But there is a sadness. Always.