Tina tells me you are gone peacefully. That is a relief. We were waiting over here, worried and more than a little fearful on your passage.
Our time in Oz is upside down, so I learn that you slipped away a day later in a different hemisphere. I feel sad. I feel disjointed. I feel like my world lacks sense. You are gone, and I have lost compass bearings.
You gave me a riding crop wrapped in paper for my (much requested) birthday gift. I used it on my bike pedalling down the lanes. I added string reins and the rest – my horse, the sense of galloping – was imaginary. I met you and Tina coming towards me. Tina fed her horse polo mints. You wore a quilted vest and a hat I called a tea cosy. You slipped me some mints. Feeding dreams.
I loved your damson jam, pickled beetroot and toast scorched on the Rayburn.
I loved your kitchen and your garden views. I loved your laugh, and the way you peered at me through glasses, smiling.
I loved you. Still do. That doesn’t stop. But you have. Peacefully. Where are you?
The chair beside your fire?
Beyond the kitchen window?
Calling out from the driver’s seat of your trusty Mercedes?
I see you, Nanna.
I see you reversing down Hurst Lane, waving regally to let us pass by in the hire car, as you did last April. I see you readied with lipstick and hair styled to go out. Upright and vital. For me, you are a giant personality, a poised presence with beautifully set waves, and chin raised jauntily towards the camera. Confident. Ready with advice, reminiscence and questions in equal measure.
I hear you call me, “Sammy!“.
I am 51. I haven’t been called Sammy by anyone else since forever. And that is why I love you.
You are threaded in my stories, memories and dreams. I have a measure of you running in my genes, passed down to two feisty daughters. You are here in me and Mum, and Tina. All around for all of us. For always.
And for that, I am very grateful.