It was very early this morning, still dark outside, when I heard the pitter patter of rain on the roof.
Lightning flashed and thunder rumbled ever so quietly. And then for a moment, there was stillness. I lay in bed with my eyes open and wondered about that. I wondered if, four thousand long miles away, my mum had opened heaven’s gates and stepped inside.
And she had.
She wasn’t my real mum, but she might as well have been. Her other daughter-in-law affectionately calls her Joanie, but she was always mum to me.
She made the best breakfasts…of bacon, and eggs, and tomatoes and mushrooms. She had a special plate that was just for me. And she always told me I ate like a bird.
It was her who came to stay each time I had a baby. She would knit them hats that were far too big, and bounce them affectionately on her knee.
When our four sons were young, it was always to her big house, in the sunny south of England that we would go for our summer holidays. We would pack up the car with our six bikes hanging off the roof and drive, like the Clampetts, for two weeks of fun at Grandma’s. And even though she scolded us when we tramped the red sand of the beach in on our shoes, she loved us being there. And even though it sometimes rained, we always remember the sunny days.
She would walk with us down the little stony path, through the woods to our favorite Elberry Cove, where we would sit on the pebbly beach and eat our crisps and salmon butties. Once we clambered together in a blow up boat and rowed around in the shallow waters. I remember her laughing in her floppy hat.
Sometimes, we would go out walking together at night. She loved big houses and when it was dark, you could see in peoples’ windows.
She was full of energy and life, and was often found to be doing her ironing and dusting at one o’clock in the morning. Even when she retired, she cleaned houses in her spare time, and even though she didn’t have much money, we always found a few pounds tucked away in the envelope whenever she wrote to us.
She could paint with two hands, and loved to water color. She could magically grow any plant from the tiniest shoot or seed; and outside her kitchen window, there was always a row of flower pots standing proudly on the little stone wall, spilling over with fuchsias, or sweet peas, or carnations. She talked to them every day, and always knew what they needed.
She loved to go for rides in the countryside, and was always the first to notice and name the yellows and purples of the wild flowers that danced in the Devon hedgerows. One day, she wrote about them in my diary.
And I think about time, and life, and how fast this one, precious gift passes us by.
And how we must snatch it, and hold on to each moment, and cherish the memories of summer days, and floppy hats, and wildflowers that dance in the hedgerows.