All those years ago, when my stepfather came to lodge in our house, after we'd moved from Aber to Cambridge.....
He taught me chess and snooker and deliberately let me win just to boost my confidence.
I never carried on with chess when he left my life at the age of eleven to become a 'mystery man', meeting my mother but never me in those years when divorce was an even muckier business.
I did play snooker again at Uni. Though my degree was in English with a subsidiary in Pinball Studies, snooker was one of the many 'modules ' at the Old Union building (including table footie and newspaper reading).
He was a slick, single-minded and successful salesman then, living off commission and dedicated to life on the road, wooing firm after firm.
He was equally dedicated to my mother and when they married I was 17 and living with them Our relationship had become much more tense.
I was used to living with my mother and being aware of the unseen,visiting lover. Suddenly, I was thrust into a situation where I shared a house with this relative stranger, who had been in my life many years previously.
I believe he expected the compliant ever-eager boy I'd been then, not the complicated adolescent obsessed with literature; an aspiring intellectual into Soft Machine and James Joyce.
He worked all hours and was very possessive of my mother (not that she'd ever given me any attention).
I was uprooted from a village where I had friends and he had to cope with a stroppy sixth-former.
At eighteen and off to university, they told me he was going to work on the Continent. I now know this was an invention : they simply did not want me to live with them.
However, what could have been a rejection turned out to be a vital part of my life, as I went to live in Barry with my paternal grandmother and returned to Wales at last.
I only saw them occasionally after that, when they visited me at Aber. When I married and had children , they made it obvious that we were not welcome and, like my siblings, I became estranged from my mother and stepfather.
Even when my son played a concert in their home town for the National Children's Orchestra, they showed no interest in supporting him.
It might seem astonishing, but my mother was never a maternal person and we always regarded ourselves as 'responsibilities'.
She was the exact opposite of her own mother, who only had one child, but relished looking after us, especially my sister who she had looked after in her infancy with such devotion.
My stepfather was used as an excuse for this lack of contact, but I knew it was just as much my mother.
When she was eventually confined to a Care Home and imprisoned in a bed all day long, he would often phone seeking advice and assistance. Through those calls and her great concern for her welfare, we gradually became closer.
It was ironic, because when they were fit and healthy they would never have rung!
Yet then I felt needed and however distant, the telephone line became our strong cable of connection.
Since my mother died in 2008, this had become so much more important to him.
He had no family left of his own and therefore planned, for many years, so many schemes which never came to fruition.
Through our phone-calls, we became friends again.
Though I'd moan when he rang too often, I knew how much he enjoyed our conversations.
He frequently talked about moving to this area: a bungalow maybe, though none was ever quite right. A flat more likely in sheltered accomodation, though how could he ever travel down, even if I came up and accompanied him on the train?
In truth, I could tell from his house why he could never have moved.
It was precisely the same as when my mother had lived with him.
He had suspended time on purpose, to keep alive those memories.
The only difference being her ashes kept on top of the piano, awaiting the time when they'd be thrown together into the waves at Tanybwlch beach.
I don't feel burdened by guilt now I know that a neighbour visited him the day he died and told us how well he seemed: much better as the weather had cooled somewhat.
He should have gone into hospital yet adamantly refused, stubbornly remaining in that house - so full of my mother's presence - to the very last.
I phoned the police after I failed to get through time and again and they found him lying by his bed.
I still keep thinking he will ring.
WAITING FOR YOUR CALL
i.m Ian Garratt
I am waiting for your call;
I shall be waiting hours, days,
weeks, seasons and years,
even though I witnessed you
laid waxen and still.
That is the line we knew,
not railways planned to take,
or motorways which stretched
in your thoughts like pain
which kept you awake.
Once or twice each day
and though the ringing's stopped
I'm listening out for it ;
know how voices interlink
like palms or fingers of sound.
Even though I hold your book
with numbers in a hand
so thin and web-like,
I'm waiting for your call:
feel sure my dreams will connect.