This is the fifteenth part of a fiction serial, in 892 words.
I don’t know why I wasn’t surprised by the news that my mum had died. Graham told me she had suffered a stroke two days earlier, and he hadn’t wanted to bother me with that until he knew the outcome. He reckoned I would be too shocked to go into more details at the time, and offered to ring me back later to discuss things like her will, and funeral arrangements. She had been there longer than it seemed to me, but I had to admit I had never really missed her. She was just my mum, and I loved her because she was.
But I was never overwhelmed by her, like some guys get obsessed with their mums.
I phoned into work and told them. One thing about working as a cop, they are really good at times like that. The team Inspector told me to take as much time off as I needed, and to let him know if there was anything he could do. I decided to use the first unexpected day off to pop around to the Greek barber in the precinct and get my hair cut. I let him talk me into a real barber shave too. That’s a great feeling, a real cut-throat razor shave. Towels on your face after, and some old-school bay rum cologne splashed on.
I never cried over mum. Not once.
Graham phoned back in the evening. I didn’t bother to work out what time it was in Vancouver, though guessed it was still daytime for him. Typically, he was well-organised. He said that mum had made a will when she went to live with them, and I should get a local solicitor to act for me, so his guy could send copies of all the paperwork to be officially recorded here. He would obtain a second copy of the death certificate to send too, so I could prove to the agent managing mum’s house that she had died. The funny thing was that my brother was talking to me as if he still lived in London, and we were best buddies.
He was like a stranger to me, but I didn’t bother to tell him that.
Mum was going to be buried in a cemetery in Vancouver the following week. Graham seemed surprised that I wasn’t going to go to her funeral. I told him I wasn’t flying all that way to sit in church for ten minutes, then watch her box put in the ground. Maybe he thought I would have liked to spend time with his wife and family as well, but he didn’t argue. He wanted to get down to the financial stuff, and seemed relieved to be able to do that quickly. I was surprised to hear that mum had left me the house. She had left Graham’s kids all the rest of the money she had in the bank, including most of the lump sum from her pension pot. And there was a life insurance policy too, that I had never heard her mention. It was worth a hundred grand.
With some hesitation in his voice, Graham suggested that he keep the insurance money, and I could have the house. Perhaps he hadn’t bothered to find out just how much the old three-bed was worth these days, but I didn’t hang around in accepting his offer. I told him I would have a solicitor tomorrow morning, email the details, and sign the deal we had agreed over the phone. It took the rest of the week to finalise, which was pretty quick considering how many bits and pieces of paper had to be copied, faxed, authorised and notorised. I stayed off work to sort it out, and they were as nice as pie about it.
They even sent a condolences card by post. Everyone had signed it, even Dev Patel.
Eight days after I had got the phone call from Canada, I owned the family house. Even the lowest estimate of a sale price was four hundred thousand. That area was on the up, and properties were scarce. I didn’t tell Graham of course. He would never forgive himself for making such a bad deal. I contacted mum’s agent who was renting it out for her and told him to give the renters the minimum notice to leave of three months. I also asked him for the names of local decorators who could bosh it up to look nice once the three people living there had gone. Meanwhile, I would get the eight hundred a month that they had been paying.
Then I went over to my laptop and started to make some calculations.
If I got four-twenty for the house, I could pay off the outstanding mortgage on Spencer House, and still have almost three hundred and fifty left. I already had a fair bit of savings in the bank, and my police pension would pay out at a reduced rate if I left early. I was close enough to twenty years service, and though thirty years paid the maximum, all that dosh from selling mum’s house would more than make up for the difference. I needed more time to think, so I rang my doctor and made an appointment.
I saw her for the first time in over four years, and got her to sign me off with stress.