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  • Writer's pictureGirlWellTravelled

The Flight

I want to talk about anything but what I've written on this paper right now.

Because maybe, just maybe, I can prolong this process in the church today.

I can delay our advance to the next stage.

Perhaps just perhaps, if we don't mention why we are all gathered here, it'll be all right!

Because this feels surreal.


Some three days after the news, I rang grandad's number.

Maybe someone got the information mixed up. The wrong flight number called. Perhaps grandad didn't get on the plane; he's still in the hospital.


My aunty will tell you I put her through a 'Spanish Inquisition' because no one was there. She says she's received his death certificate/boarding pass. Again no one was there. Who did they really print that pass for?


Your call is important to us; please hold the line. The person you're calling knows you're waiting. BT's answer phone recording.


Anyone who has ever called my grandad would be familiar with that recording, especially on a Sunday. He could poun' story. Not something I inherited from him. Okay, maybe in some ways, I did.


And if you've ever had to listen to that message on repeat, don't feel any less; grandkids didn't get moved up the order chain. Nope, we had to wait too. I remember one Sunday afternoon in particular, no answer came until the next day.

Hello, babycakes! (His pitch is always closer to a 'G')

All was well with the world now.

Grandad!
Yeesss!
I've been calling you since yesterday.
Yeesss, I was catching up with some ole friends. We siddown, pound story.
Poun' story, eh?

The person you're calling knows you're waiting.

Yesss, talk about ole times.
It must have been good, I say.
Yeesss, we had a good laugh. Good times...
I see, so what you up to today?
Well, had a funeral today for so and so. You won't know them. They left Montserrat long before you were born.
I see. I say.
And another funeral, somewhere in East London, tomorrow.
Wait, are these the funerals you told me about last week or another set of funerals? Because grandad, by the time you're finished going to funerals, they'll be no one left to attend yours.

But grandad, you should see the church—even with Covid restrictions in play.

They've all come out to say and pay their ultimate regards to you today.


The person you're calling knows you waiting.


And I tell you what, BT must have sent an engineer around in the last few days to check that line is ok.


I had since switched those Sunday calls to Thursdays; Thursdays have no queues.

Hello, babycakes!

You can't go far wrong with a greeting like that. Can you?


Do you know what babycakes means? It means sweetheart. His endearing term for the lot of us. It didn't mean we got shoved to the front of the queue, though. I had to wait my turn like all else. While he chatted, laughed, poun' stories with all and sundry.


But if you've ever met my grandad, and I suppose you all have hence the reason you are here. But just in case you hadn't, I've never known him to be disgruntled, annoyed, upset, or judgemental. He was easygoing. Traits I'm still waiting to fully inherit.


The person you're calling knows you're waiting.


Waiting for their turn to chat, laugh and poun' story.


Stephanie, leave the child alone. She doesn't want the fish and chips. My grandad to my mother, a little while after we moved to the UK.

You see my grandparents had just asked us if we wanted fish and chips. A resounding yes all around to be getting fish and chips. Except, when it turned up, it was different to how we did fish and chips back home. My eyes wouldn't communicate with my brain, with my stomach.


I looked up from the fish and chips. Face speaking all the words I dare not let leave my mouth. My eyes to my mother's. Her mouth didn't move, but her face said everything. You're eating the fish and chips.


Winced.


Grandad walked out of the room, leaving me with the version that required me to eat what was in front of me. So I'm like, wait, grandad, come back.

He must have guessed because he called back to my mother. 'Stephanie, leave the child alone.'

Easy going. That was my grandad.


And it was this cheerful, well-mannered, easy going demeanour that kept us all calling, whether it was the sun or the moon in the sky.


But we weren't the only ones calling. Because not so long ago, we thought grandad's flight number had been called, except when we got to departure, we were refreshingly asked to turn back.


The thing is, though, we've all got flight numbers, haven't we? We simply do not know what ours is, which date or time.


Sadly, two Sundays ago, grandad's flight number was indeed called; his flight was ready.


Cabin crew, doors to manual and cross-check.


In memory and love (my speech/eulogy) Mr E Allen, Grandad's funeral Summer 2021

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