My grandfather died on 7 January 2000 when I was 19, my uncle died on 6 January 1979, before I was born. I guess the story really starts there.
My grandmother is a deeply superstitious woman, you know, "no new shoes on the table", "saluting magpies", "no walking under ladders", etc... But the following the Christmas of '78 for some reason, completely against her character, she decided to take the Christmas decorations down on 2 January. My mum believes it was an attempt to overcome this "obsession" with superstitions.
On the 6th January, my grandparents were visited by the police, with the news that my uncle had been involved in a car accident, which unfortunately took his life. As expected my grandparents took it extremely badly, but more so my grandmother who continued to blame herself over the years, believing it was her fault for pulling down the decorations earlier than she should.
The years went on, the family grew, and after years of bad health, my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. '99 was to be his last Christmas with us. As the New Year came he was bed-ridden, and refused to enter the hospital as he knew his time had come and he didn't want to spend his last days in strange surroundings, and the family wanted to spend as much time as they could with him before he passed away (I had the flu so I wasn't allowed to visit - just in case)
On the night of 5th January, my grandmother went to bed, lying next to my grandfather, who for the last 3 days had been incoherent, with very little speech. On this night he sat up - like a healthy man, as my grandmother described "like a man who woke up in the morning ready for a hard day of work" She actually said she hadn't seen him appear so sprightly for a few years. My grandmother sat up in awe, and he started to speak.
"I know! I am looking forward to seeing you too. But don't expect me to leave your mother today. Let me get her through tomorrow, and then I'll come."
He sat in silence for a short while, like you would whilst listening, before he spoke again.
"I know it wasn't her fault - but there's no telling that woman... She still thinks it's her fault after all these years because of that damn Christmas trees... I have to help her through tomorrow, and then I'll come - I promise."
Listening to this conversation helped my grandmother a lot in dealing with the death of her son, and preparing for the death of my grandfather. The next day, she called us all to come round and say our goodbyes to him and as my father took us home my mother stayed with all her siblings waiting for the moment.
It was a very stormy night, and usually when someone is on their deathbed, it's a tradition in Wales, maybe in other places I don't know, to keep the window of the room open so that the spirit can slip away easily. But because of the storm, the window was shut, and at 1 am on January 7th, once he knew he'd kept his promise of staying until after the anniversary of the death of my Uncle, my grandfather slipped away. The following day my grandmother opened the hallway door to accept a parcel that required signing by the post man. At the time my mother and all her siblings were sat in the living room, chatting away.
Just to explain the layout as it does play a part in the whole story, my grandparents house is the average 50s style council house you'd find in the UK. When you open the front door you literally are looking up the stairs with the living room to the right of you. The stairs are squeaky - you hear every single creak when someone is on them, but only when someone is on them.
So my grandmother opened the door for the postman, and my mother and her siblings were in the living room, when the stairs started creaking, they all sat in silence as they heard each foot step coming down the stairs. My grandmother was at the door with the post man, telling him about my grandfather passing away, and they both heard it too, before a gentle breeze passed them by.
Maybe it was coincidence, mind playing tricks, we don't know, but I do know it helped us as a family with our grief, firstly knowing he was with my uncle, secondly that he left his house through the front door he painted himself.