Tomorrow marks one year since my grandfather’s death. I loved him to pieces and occasionally still feel winded when I realise that he’s not with us anymore. The Easter Sunday celebration the family had last weekend, for instance, just didn’t feel right without him pouring water in his wine at the restaurant, or falling asleep on the couch in the afternoon.
He survived childhood polio, World War 2, immigrating to a different hemisphere and something like 67 years of marriage to my grandmother, before pneumonia finally took him at 93 years of age.
People messaged me, sent flowers. My work gave me a tree, which I am keeping in a pot so that it can come with us when we eventually move. But my friend Caroline mailed me a little thing of bath salts.
I was touched that she’d gone to the effort of thinking of something to send other than the traditional flowers (while appreciative of everyone’s sympathy, we did get quite a lot of them).
The salts were in subdued but attractive packaging (just the thing when you’re trying to be sympathetic without being offensively cheery), with the following quotation on it:
There must be quite a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them — Sylvia Plath.
My partner and I both did a double take at the quote (a hot bath was not going to bring my grandfather back) and then another one when we saw who the quote was attributed to, since Sylvia Plath is in no way someone you would think to go to for life affirmations or advice on the healing qualities of… well, anything. And Caroline had to have known that (we did meet, after all, in an English class at university).
And then I decided that the quote was absolutely perfect. It was like a knowing nod — because a hot bath wasn’t going to cure me of my grief. But it did make me feel a tiny bit better.