I don’t have a lot of relatives, and I’m neither sentimental nor particularly family-orientated, but there are two ladies in my life who have a special importance to me and have been there since long before my birth. They are my paternal grandmother’s sisters – the last two women living of a family of thirteen siblings. M and R (my godmother) are 90 and 92 years old respectively, and are a pair of old-fashioned city birds, thankfully with all faculties intact, bar some tottery legs and a little deafness.
We went out today to celebrate M’s birthday. She turned 90 on Tuesday and has been trying to avoid any acknowledgement of this fact at all costs. For her, turning 90 represents the end. She’s probably been getting sadder with every passing month.
This was our second attempt at a celebration and it took some coaxing, but we got there in the end with a leisurely lunch in a cosy fish restaurant where I felt embarrassed for them when they served our desserts in old jam jars, something that truly baffled the old dames (and can you blame them? we’re living in a veritable alternative universe where we are regularly forced to inexplicably eat chips out of metal buckets, complete with handle). By a happy coincidence the restaurant we found ourselves in had previously been a pub that M had frequented as a folk singer, 6 or 7 decades ago. It brought back a flood of memories for her and later, when we got them both home, at four o’clock in the afternoon, she settled into her armchair, and started to sing.
It was all I could do to hold it together.
Happy Easter everyone.