In spite of his increasing frailty and the need to nap both in the morning and afternoon, Mark insisted on walking the now six-year-old Ian down the hill to school in the morning. The walk now took longer and he had to stop at least twice on the way back up the hill to get his breath. But, as he pointed out to Krit and Tim, it was about the only exercise he was getting these days and it was nice to get out of the house. It was, therefore, something of a surprise to Mrs Wright to be greeted by Ian when she came through the door to the kitchen at nine-thirty on a Wednesday morning in October.
“Hello, Ian,” she said, “shouldn’t you be at school?”
“Yes, but bpòo won’t wake up to take me. Can you wake him?” He grabbed Mrs Wright’s hand and pulled her towards the lounge. “Can you wake bpòo?”
Mrs Wright looked at the figure slumped in his chair by the fire. He had a photo frame clasped to his breast. “No, Ian, I don’t think I can wake your grandfather. He has gone to a place where you do not want to wake. Why don’t you go to the conservatory and play with your train set? I’ll bring you some orange juice in a bit.”
As the boy walked off towards the conservatory, Mrs Wright went into the kitchen and picked up the phone. Mr Wainwright had told her exactly what she should do in these circumstances, and she carried out his instructions. Her first action was to phone the works and speak to Mr Tim, and then she had to phone Mr Wainwright’s solicitor.
There was quite a turn out for the funeral of Mr Mark Wainwright. The works had been closed for the day as a sign of respect, though it would have been impossible to open anyway given the number of staff that intended to take the day off to attend. Mr Wainwright had cared about them and their families, and they felt it a duty and honour to show their appreciation of the man.
In accordance with Mark’s instructions there was no funeral service, just a simple secular ceremony at the graveside before he was lowered into the earth beside his wife.
James had asked that the family and certain guests meet him at his offices after the funeral reception. Once everybody had settled down in the conference room, which was a bit crowded, James began to read the will.
It started with a number of small bequests—ten thousand to the older Mrs Wright, five thousand to Tara and to the younger Mrs Wright. There were also bequests to the chap who came in one day a week to help with the garden and to the man who did odd jobs and repairs for Mark. Then came the first of the big announcements.
“Over the years,” James read from the will, “I have given my children such assistance as I have been able to supply. I, therefore, feel that there is no obligation upon me to make further provision for them. That being the case, I make the following bequests to them free of all taxes and duties.
“To my children, Phillip, Emma, and Joan I leave the sum of two million pounds each. As my son, Johnathan Wainwright, has disowned his son Timothy, I leave nothing to the said Johnathan Wainwright. I will not list the many reasons for this as I am sure everyone listening to the reading of this will is aware of of Jonthan’s opprobrium. Instead I leave the sum of one million pounds to each of his children, Ruth Wainwright and Timothy Meesang-Wainwright.”
“He can’t do that!” Johnny shouted, “he must have been out of his mind.” James looked up from the will and addressed Johnny.
“Oh, I can assure you he wasn’t. In fact, before he signed the will he got checked out by two of the top psychologists in town, who both certified that he was in full possession of his faculties.” James stopped and removed a paper from his folder. “In fact one of them writes that the fact that Mr Wainwright anticipated a possible objection on the grounds of his mental competence and had requested the examination was a clear sign of his competence.” He met Jonathan’s eye, paused for effect, then continued to read the will.
“I further leave to Timothy Meesang-Wainwright half of my shares in MBE and I leave to the said Timothy Meesang-Wainwright together with his husband Krit Meesang-Wainwright the property known as Craigh House, which I at this time occupy.”
“In the event of my death occurring before Thomas Wainwright-O’Mally and Connor Terrance Wainwright-O’Mally complete their course of studies at University College London, I instruct that the sum of two million be put in trust to continue to pay to them the allowance that I have been paying to them from my own funds to the time of my death. I appoint my grandson Timothy Meesang-Wainwright and his husband Krit Meesang-Wainwright, along with my daughter Joan Wainwright, to be trustees. The trust to operate under the deed of trust that I have drawn up separate to this testament.
“To Connor Terrance Wainwright-O’Mally and Thomas Wainwright-O’Mally jointly I leave half my shares in Wainwright Properties Ltd.” This resulted in a gasp from Connor who realised that they had effectively just been given student housing which must be worth over ten million pounds. “The balance of my shares in Wainwright Properties Ltd., to be placed in trust for the benefit of my grandchildren in accordance with the deed of trust I have deed of trust I drawn up separate to this testament.
“I leave to Thomas Wainwright-O’Mally and Connor Terrance Wainwright-O’Mally jointly the lease on the apartment in Weymouth Street, London, that they currently occupy.
“To my cousin Thomas Wainwright-O’Mally (yes Jonathan, he is my cousin and Joan has the proof) I leave the Eagle E-type Jaguar.”
As this was read Johnny stood up and stormed out of the room. James looked up and shook his head, then continued to read the will. “To my nephew Paul Strange I leave the balance of my shares in MBE Ltd and the sum of five hundred thousand pounds.” After that the will dealt with the disposal of various assets and real property, most of which went to Tim. There were a few odd gifts to children and grandchildren, even a couple of items left for Thomas. James continued to read though the list of gifts and bequests until, finally, he said, “the residue of my estate after taxes and duties I instruct be liquidated and the proceeds thereof be placed in a trust for the benefit of gay youth, specifically homeless gay youth. As trustees I appoint…”
Thomas stopped listening at that point. He was just thinking about Mark, about a man who cared. Connor shook his shoulder.
“Thomas, James wants to speak with you,” Connor stated. Thomas looked around and noticed people were filing out. He then turned and looked at the solicitor at the end of the table.
“Thomas, Mark asked that I specifically give you this box. It’s been stored in our offices from before the date I joined the firm. A couple times Mark opened it and added some contents but then sealed it. Last time, back in January, he left instruction that in the event of his death it was to be handed to you to deal with.” James took a deed box that had been on the table next to him and handed it to Thomas. He then continued, “He also suggested that you might want to open it in private.”
Connor drove Thomas back to Craigh House, where Tim and Krit assured them that they still had their room and could use the place anytime. Thomas thanked them, explained about the box and said he thought he should open it privately. Tim suggested he use Mark’s study.
In the box was a smaller box, clearly old, made of cardboard. On a rather faded label were the words “Ashes of Ian Donnal”. Thomas looked at the box, then lifted out the envelope that was next to it, an envelope addressed to him. Opening the envelope, he withdrew the letter and started to read:
The fact that you are reading this means that I am dead and maybe you can finish for me what I never could do. In this box are the ashes of Ian Donnal; yes, he was your relative, your grandfather’s brother, so your great uncle. He was also my best friend. When he died his family wanted nothing to do with him so my father arranged for his cremation after which I got the ashes.
Throughout the years I have never known what should be done with them. Nothing seemed right, but now I know. Would you please cast his ashes on my grave and as you do so tell him what I never could — that I loved him?
I did from the day I met him and have held his memory throughout my life, but when he needed to hear it I could not tell him. That shame was my life’s burden.
The following day, just as the sun was setting, Thomas, Connor, Tim, and Krit stood around the grave of Mark Wainwright whilst Thomas scattered the ashes upon it, saying as he did, “Ian, he loved you.”
Copyright © 2016 Nigel Gordon — All rights reserved.