My name is Bob Evans and I am fifty-four-years-old and a widower. I lost my wife, Mary, to breast cancer three years ago. My son, Tom, and his wife Grace were childhood sweethearts they met whilst they were at school and destined to be together. She was a beautiful girl and always cheerful, I liked her from the moment that we were introduced, and we all got along immediately.
They married young, at nineteen, despite the advice of both sets of parents to wait. There was no need to rush, she wasn’t pregnant, they said that they simply couldn’t wait any longer.
Grace and I had always had a good relationship, and that only improved with age, and she often used to confide in me and turn to me for help and advice, especially in the early years of their marriage.
When my wife died Grace was there for me. I would have been lost without her and she stayed with me for a couple of weeks after the funeral to care for me as I descended into a dark place. She would sit with me, hold me as I cried, for the first time in my life I cried, and I was so comfortable in her presence that I didn’t feel any embarrassment or shame.
I would probably have still been there now had she not encouraged, and cajoled me out of my depression, and as I slowly emerged and began to do things for myself, she eventually returned to her husband, my son as I faced up to life on my own, and an uncertain future.
That was three years ago. Now, I am okay. I miss my wife terribly, every day I wake up and I see her photograph on my bedside cabinet and I smile, and I am reminded of just how much I miss her. But I rarely cry these days, I spend a couple of moments staring at her then I get up, brush my fingers across the glass front of the photo-frame and tell myself, “one more day.”
I live alone in the house where we raised our son. We did think about moving, we had promised that if Tom and Grace had ever had children then we would have moved to be closer to them, but sadly, that never happened. Unfortunately, they were never blessed with the gift of children, which was a great shame as my wife and I both believed that Grace would have made a brilliant mother. And now, as Grace approached her thirty-second birthday I began to fear that they might never have the opportunity to experience the joy of parenthood.
I was sat on the sofa, the football highlights were on TV, I’d just watched a rare win from my team when my attention was interrupted by the ring of my mobile. I looked at the screen, ‘Grace,’
‘I wonder what she wants at this time of night?’
“Hello, Grace?” I answered.
The reception was bad, it sounded like she was in her car. It also sounded like she was crying. I tried to calm her, but she was hysterical. I was worried for her safety, she shouldn’t have been driving in the state that she was clearly in. I persuaded her to pull over, which she did.
I waited for her to get control of herself, and when she did, she hit me with the news that my son, her husband, had left her for a woman that he’d met at work. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe what I had heard.
“He’s left you?” I had to ask again.
“Yes, dad.” She started crying again.
‘Dad?’ I thought, she only called me dad when it was serious, normally it was Bob.
“Could I come and stay with you for a few days?” She asked.
I told her that of course, she could. But I didn’t want her driving in her emotional state. I asked her where she was and she had only just left her home. I told her to turn around and go home and wait for me there.
She thanked me.
“Dad. I don’t know what I’m going to do.” She sniffled.
I told her not to think about anything, and to wait until I got there.
I checked my watch.
“I’ll be there about two, don’t wait up, I have my key.”
“I’ll wait for you dad. I can’t stay here. She’s been here” She sighed, her voice was filled with pain and betrayal.
I hung up and slammed my fist into the sofa.
“Fucking idiot! What are you playing at Tom?” I yelled.
As I got my keys and locked up, I called my idiot son, but he at least had the common sense to turn his phone off, he knew that she’d call me and he knew that he’d be hearing from me, I cursed him again and then stopped.
‘It’s Grace that I have to think about, I’ll deal with him later.’ I thought.
I left the house and headed north.