Truly Thankful

Gemma struggled to offload her mother’s hoard of loo roll!

Becky squeezed past the mountain of loo paper in the living room and goggled.

“Mum, just no! It’s a fire hazard, not to mention beyond embarrassing.”

“I know, but what can I do?” Gemma said. “The landlord needed us to clear the flat, and the neighbours didn’t want it.”

“Yes, but when you said Gran had been hoarding, I thought, well, maybe a few bags, not a roomful.”

Gemma sighed. “This is only half of it. Your auntie took the rest.”

Becky stared, then threw her hands in the air.

“Why would she do this? Gran was so cross about people panic buying and not leaving enough for others. And she knew she was going, so why…?” Becky broke off and splayed her hand out towards the pile. “It’s not like she could take it with her.”

Gemma continued sorting through the box of knickknacks she’d had to bring from the flat, too.

“Honestly, if I’d known, I’d have said something. But it’s not like we’ve been able to go round much recently, is it?”

“This is so embarrassing.” Becky started texting. “Other grandparents leave money. What do I get?” She made big, desperate eyes at her mother.

Gemma sympathised. To be fair, none of them expected this.

“Are you sure she didn’t lose her marbles? I mean, her last big decision was completely outside the box, wasn’t it?”

“I suppose it was.” Gemma looked at the knickknack now in her hand, a small, framed religious quote on the background of the cross: In everything give thanks. She ran her finger over the words. “But I do miss her.”

Becky put her phone down and hugged her.

“I’m sorry. I forgot. It must be so hard for you. But she’s happy now, Mum. She always felt something was missing after Grandad died.”

Later, over tea, Becky said, “Why not sell it at a car boot sale?”

Gemma shook her head. “It took two trips to bring them home.”

Becky remained undeterred. “Foodbank?”

“It’s not food.”

“Yeah all right, but, Mum, skint people still need to –”

Gemma put down her fork and held up her hand.

“I get the picture. Actually, that’s a good idea. They might own a van to pick them up, too.”

However, the foodbank was also oversupplied.

“We’re short of toothpaste, though,” they added. “Did she hoard that as well?”

Next, Gemma advertised on the local free swap site where she’d shifted her mother’s furniture, with no luck.

“Why don’t you recycle it, then?” Becky asked.

Gemma’s eye strayed to the blue recycling bin outside the window. “That will take months.”

“Not if you take it to the dump.”

Gemma shook her head. “We can’t take loo paper to be recycled into more loo paper.”

Becky picked up the nearest packet and examined it. Then the next. And the next.

“These are all from the same shop, that old-fashioned, open-all-hours place on Cooper Street. It’s not even from the supermarket.

What was she thinking?”

Gemma shrugged. Nothing about the situation made sense.

Becky shook her head in despair and phoned Aunty Wendy, putting her on speakerphone.

“Oh, that shop,” Wendy said. “That explains a few things. The owner is worse than Auntie Wainwright — you can’t walk past. He lures you in, and the only escape is to buy something.

“Presumably, Mum bought another four-pack each time rather than be rude and leave empty-handed. At least loo roll is cheap and light to carry.”

“Why didn’t she just avoid the shop?” Becky asked.

“It was next to the hairdresser where she went for her weekly shampoo and set. Anyway, I’ve solved the storage problem.”

Becky flicked up her eyes to her mother, hopefully. “How?”

“I lined my outside walls with a single layer, floor to ceiling, for insulation. The room’s a bit smaller, but if we get another hot summer, we won’t fry again.”

“That’s it!” Becky said as she disconnected. “You two are hopeless. I’m taking extreme measures.”

Gemma put a hand on Becky’s phone. “What are you going to do?”

Becky locked eyes with her mother, as though daring Gemma to say no. “Phone the convent.”

“Why?” Gemma asked as Becky searched the internet for the number of The Sisters of Holy Deliverance.

“Because if they want Grandma that much, they can take her bathroom supplies as well. I’ll pitch it to them as a donation.”

After Becky left with the second carload, Gemma pushed an armchair back into the space vacated by the great loo roll evacuation.

With one last glance at In everything give thanks, she hid the box of knick-knacks behind it.

Not only had her mother taken the stash with her, the sisters had been truly thankful for what they were about to receive.

“Amen to that,” she muttered.

Our My Weekly Favourites series of feel-good fiction from our archives continues on Mondays and Thursdays. Look out for the next one.
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