Here we are. Boxing Day morning. The last time I saw my brother alive. I had just opened up for the new day and I felt fine. No hangover, no headache. Nothing, nada, zip! Sean was one of the first people through the doors and man did he look a sight. Bloodshot eyes, breath like a dead dogs bottom. Not that I could tell you what one smells like!
It was just like old times again though. Only one thing had changed. This was a man who, just a few years previous, could have drank all night and all day. I guess thats what happens as you get older. You feel the effects a lot harder.
We sat down and talked like nothing else mattered. I had a pint of lager and Sean? He had a coffee. I still look back at that day and smile as I call him a lightweight in the drinking department.
We discussed how he wanted to leave the driving trade and how he wanted to become a publican. I had no doubt that given the opportunity he would have been perfect. He wasnt a big lad yet also he wasnt exactly small. Standing at over six foot he had a slight height advantage. Couple that with confidence and you had your ideal landlord.
I phone my boss, even though I though he would not answer his phone as usual but for once he answered straight away. I explained to him that my brother was looking for an opportunity and passed the phone over to Sean. They talked for a while and he put the phone down and looked at me with a smile. Again the lucky bleeder had done it! I still want to know your secret brother.
We sat for most of the day, punctuated by my having to do my job as landlord. Changing barrels, fetching change. The usual daily routine. For once in our lives I felt that Sean was jealous of me for a change. Here he was sitting in my bar watching me succeed. I felt enormous pride that he was proud for me. Nothing can take that from me.
After a long time Sarah phoned Sean to say she was coming to pick him up to take them back to Ingoldmells. I was glad that he had turned up that day just to say goodbye. It was nice of him to do that. Normally it would have been a phone call to say thanks and that they had gotten home safely, yet this time was different. Maybe even then he had some inkling that he would not have much time left. I like to think that he had no clue but we will never know.
We stood outside waiting for Sarah to pick him up. Even as I write this I can feel the tears building up inside. You know the feeling in your throat? The feeling like there is a huge lump there? Thats how I feel now. I miss the great bear!
Finally she arrived and we said our goodbyes. Just before he got in the car he turned and looked right at me and promised to revisit some time in the summer and we were going to party!
That day as I watched them drive away is the very last memory I have of him.