First, wardrobes. Clothes, beautifully kept, carefully pressed and hung, unworn, for two years or more. One bag to each of their charities: R.N.L.I, Save the Children, Oxfam, Cancer Research, the local hospital and hospice. My youngest cousin despatched to deliver, and to be back as soon as he can be.

Cosmetics, perfumes, make-up and after-shave, into the bin. Even if they weren't the wrong colour or scent for anyone, it would be far too shivery-chilling to wear them. The jewellery box, placed, unopened, into my bag. The first argument.

Whispers, but loud enough to hear:

"Why does she get all the jewellery?"
"Shut up, Iain."
"But why? It's not fair."
"Because she's the only girl. You know that."
"We all have wives."
"Wives aren't blood."
"It's still not fair."
"Shut up. She gets the jewellery for the same reason you got the car, the two of you were their favourites."

Spoken, diffident, peace-maker to the fore:

"You are welcome to anything you want for the girls."
"No, she wanted you to have it." Churlish voice, true words.

Next, the linen. Six scrupulously equal piles. "You can never have too many sheets and towels," my mother says, with forced cheeriness.

The bathroom now, nothing salvageable here, all into the trash.

Kitchen next. Saucepans, bakewear, crockery, cutlery. All gleaming, despite its age. Item after item. "Who wants this?" asks my mother, or my aunt. Long, hanging silence, time after time, until, at last, as I see tears flooding both pairs of eyes, I speak up.

"I'll take it, 'Rene."

Walking to the car, a box full of hideous seventies cups and plates, planning my own trip to the charity shop, once we get home, he is behind me. My oldest cousin, the first grandchild. He and I have always been close -- the treasured boy and the eagerly-awaited, adored girl.

"Vulture." He says.
"What?"
"Heartless, grasping vulture. You've already got the jewellery, and now you're picking over the rest of their stuff."
"You think I want this?"
"Obviously."

I take a deep breath. Hold it. Hold it. Release.

"They needed someone to take it. Someone to care about it, want it. Your mother and mine, I mean. It was upsetting them that no-one cared, couldn't you see that?"
"Liar. I've never seen you properly until today."

What can I say? I tell myself that he's hurting, just like all of us, he isn't responsible for his words, they're just a reaction to his pain. It doesn't help. But anyway, whatever I say, he won't believe me.

The living room. My mother and aunt look shell-shocked.

I put a hand on Mum's shoulder. "Go back to 'Rene's," I say, "We'll finish up." First, they shake their heads, then, slowly they nod. They leave together, Mum driving.

My voice is hard now as I say. "Bring boxes. Anything you want, put in a box and take. Everything else, into a big box in the middle of the room, and it can go to Oxfam. The dealer is coming for the furniture tomorrow."

Iain is staring at me. His eyes are cold, and full of contempt. One of the boys takes a photograph, another, one of my grandmother's bell collection, "just to remember them by." A small memento each. Still Iain stares.

Shoulders straight and set, I open the dresser drawer. And I crumple.

There, stacked tidily, still in their shop packaging, is every gift from every birthday and Christmas that any of us has given Grandad since the year dot. Each labelled, neatly and precisely with name and year: "Martin-1978" "Keith-1983", and so on. Too precious to him to be used.

My carefully held, utterly controlled composure deserts me. I grip the dresser, blood leeching from my hands, leaving them white and tense. I am aware that I am crying, tears spilling silently down my cheeks, unwiped, as I clutch the wooden drawer-front.

Nobody comes close. They gaze, helplessly. "Are you alright?" one asks. What a stupid, stupid question. Slowly, I struggle back to equilibrium. I look directly at Iain. "What do you want to do with this lot?"

He shrugs, not with indifference, but indecision, the others echo the gesture. Most of it is worthless in real terms, children's gifts to a grandfather -- aftershave, socks, handkerchiefs, cufflinks -- all cheap and tawdry, but treasured for the source and the feeling behind them. None of us want to take them, but none of us want them carelessly given to charity, or thrown away.

I'm still looking at Iain, my eldest cousin, five years my senior, my childhood hero and first girlish crush. I think. "What about Mr Langridge?" I ask. He nods, solemnly.

The tinsel-trash-treasures are put in another box, and my brother, this time, sent to deliver them across the road, to my grandfather's closest friend. He'll understand the significance and do the appropriate thing.

Iain close the gap between us. His arm rests across my shoulders.

"I was wrong," he says.

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