They have been married for about three years now, which is quite an achievement, given that Mum inflicts verbal cruelty on him daily, and blames Jimmy for practically everything, including all her own shortcomings.
Jimmy is a quiet, dour, man of few words, but when he does rise to the bait, the resulting arguments can be quite terrifying. Nothing physical, apart from Mum hurling objects at him, but extremely loud and nasty. I found the arguments so unsettling, that at the age of 14 I once again found myself in care, and resident in a local children's home.
Today being rather different than normal though, I am back with Mum and Jimmy for a few days. It is quiet in the house, apart from the loud tick tock of the clock.
Mum is in the kitchen, and I am sitting on the new settee in the living room, trying to read a magazine, but because I am constantly glancing towards the door I keep losing my place. I am nervous, because I keep expecting Jimmy to walk through the door.
Mum says there is nothing to be nervous about, because Jimmy is in the bedroom. He is definitely dead, and the lid of his coffin is screwed down very tight. There must be a draught coming from somewhere, because shivers keep running up my back.
Earlier, there had been lots of friends and neighbours round to pay their respects and look at Jimmy lying in his coffin. Everyone was dressed in their Sunday best clothes, and the smell of mothballs, shoe polish, tobacco smoke, boiled egg sandwiches, and Brylcreem, was pervasively strong in the air.
The women were drinking Sherry in little glasses, "Just a very small one for me please Muriel," and the men were knocking back Jimmy's best whisky. If he wasn't already dead Jimmy would have had a heart attack at the measures they were pouring themselves. He liked to be hospitable, not philanthropic.
I had never seen a dead body before and was reluctant to look, but Mum said I had to, so that I could properly pay my respects, whatever that meant. The person in the coffin did not look like Jimmy. It looked like a skeleton. Jimmy was a burly ex wrestler.
Mum sensed what I was thinking, "He lost a lot of weight while he was ill," she said.
I was not convinced it was him, but everyone else seemed to recognise him. They stood and looked for a few seconds and spoke to each other about what a fine man he had been, and how much he would be missed at the bowls club. Things like that.
One woman peered into the coffin and exclaimed, "Oh my word Muriel, he does look well!" At which several people nodded and murmured agreement. He didn't though, he looked like a dead man who was very ill.
Just before they screwed down the coffin lid, Mum said I should give Jimmy a kiss. I thought it was a weird thing to do, and didn't want to do it, but I didn't want to make a fuss about it, so I leaned over and kissed him on the forehead. It was like kissing cold marble. Although why I thought that, I have no idea, having never kissed marble in my life, whether warm or cold.
That was the first time I had ever kissed Jimmy, or indeed, shown any affection towards him at all. It wasn't that I didn't like him. I didn't know him. My feelings were quite ambivalent. Besides, men did not show their emotions in those days. It was considered unmanly. It was a long time after his death, that I began to understand his character, as well as the realisation of just how fond of him I had been.
It was cancer that got him. He was 64 years old. It had been a tough life. Most of it spent working in the quarry. He was just a few months off retiring. Poor Jimmy. All that hard work and he never even got the gold pocket watch!
I am 64 now. I intend to keep going for some time. I still have things to do. One thing I will be doing, is letting people I like, know that I like them. Another thing I will be doing is, avoiding pointless arguments. Actually make that all arguments. Lastly, and in my opinion very importantly, I shall be making absolutely certain that I have finished every last drop of whisky in the bottle before I go.