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Widow's Pens

I'll always remember the day Kelly came to tell me she was leaving. I always knew she would and I'd been expecting it, but it still bought me up short and kind of set me thinking about how things had been when Mom told us that she was "leaving", and how us kids had never really got over it when she died.

Not Kelly, who being so young couldn't really understand how or why her beloved Mom was taken away from her. Her mother - the one person she truly loved and adored, the one she looked up to, who loved her unconditionally - had suddenly gone and Kelly's spent much of her life trying to find someone else who'll love her that much.

Being that much older, I tried to be strong, tried to hold the family together whilst Dad went off the rails for a while. I was so busy trying to keep the family together that I didn't have time to grieve. It was nearly two years after Mom died that I finally let it out and when I did it almost killed me. I went on one of those wild sprees that young men do, only this one lasted over six months and only came to an end when I woke up one day in hospital with absolutely no idea of how I got there. The frightened look on Kelly's face, as if she thought I was going to die too, was enough to make me sober up. I still feel the pain of losing Mom, and no amount of alcohol is ever going to numb that.

And then there was Tom and Sarah - Mom and Dad's business partners. It hit them hard too - especially Tom. I later found out that he and Dad had been rivals for Mom's affections, and Tom still carried a torch for her. But then Mom was that kind of person. Someone you'd always love no matter what she did to you. Anyway, Mom struggled to finish the catalogue that she had been working on before she died, and Tom released it simply as 'Linda's Catalogue, 1997'. It had a red cover and the title was in white. And the company name was in this tiny, almost invisible, black lettering in the bottom right-hand corner. Tom and Sarah went on the road not long after the funeral and they must have covered every inch of the country selling the catalogue to anyone who would have it. They sold thousands of copies - it was a phenomenal effort, especially for a medium-sized company.

I remember one night, not long after they got back, Tom came over with a large suitcase and a bottle of Scotch. He went down to Dad's workroom (which is pretty much where Dad lived for six months or so), opened the suitcase and took out over 100,000 dollars which he stacked on Dad's draughtsman's table. I'd never seen so much money. The three of us stared at the money for a while, then Dad just swept it all on to the floor saying "It won't bring her back, Tom." Tom just nodded and as they embraced in that awkward way that male friends do, I could see that Dad was crying. As they opened the Scotch and started drinking I discreetly closed the door and left them to it.

The next day Dad seemed to be his old self again. He'd occasionally lapse into silence if Kelly talked about Mom and there was often a tear in his eye when he said Goodnight, but by and large he was back to being our Dad. Good old Dad. You know out of all of us Dad - a man whose pencil case had swollen from a few old pens till it contained literally hundreds, and then shrank back till it contained just a few old grey widow's pens, widower's pens, the only one who truly knew Mom the man who loved her and she loved back, the man who knew exactly how much Mom loved us all - he was the only one who ever really got over Mom's death. And I'll always be jealous of that.