This isn’t a sad tale – it has a happy ending – but I need to set it in context, so please bear with me.
The 16th July is a sad day in our family as it is the anniversary of the death of my brother, aged 22, in a terrible accident far away from home. It is also a day that is slap bang in the middle of several family birthdays, mine and my son’s included, which makes it difficult to celebrate them without an undercurrent of guilt and sadness.
It was my mum’s birthday last Friday, the 15th, she was 86. We usually try to bring her to ours to help keep it special and her distracted so she’s not home alone thinking about Dave. She rarely gets out, other than to the local corner shop and on the community bus to Asda, and misses her trips to the coast and to local markets.
We had planned lunch out, but the weather was awful, typical St Swithin’s Day weather (legend has it that the day he was buried, the heaven’s opened in floods of tears and that’s been the way ever since on this day). It was cold, windy, dark and rainy.
So, Mum opened her cards and presents and was all set to sit at home, do her crosswords and watch the rain. However, my daughter had sent her a garden centre gift card and we had given her a new bird feeder, so we persuaded her to go to the local garden centre and buy some birdfeed and whatever else she needed. She took some persuading, resigned as she was to a quiet day doing nothing in particular, but she went.
She has restricted mobility so getting her in and out of the car is quite a mean feat and walking is limited. But she came back pleased to have got her bird feed, a gorgeous purple African violet – the last thing my brother bought her (this one will no doubt go the way of all the others and be dead this time next year!) and some little gifts for her neighbours. My husband made a vegetarian curry for dinner and at her request, they had apple pie for dessert – she didn’t want cake and candles. We hoped for better weather next day.
Nope. The weather gods were busy elsewhere. Husband and I despaired. This was terrible. He had planned a trip to the local canal junction to see the boats, feed the ducks, have an ice-cream. Mum and Dad used to spend holidays on the Norfolk Broads, and despite being a non-swimmer, she loved being on a boat and we knew she would enjoy this.
However, after a couple of hours and with a break in the drizzle, I suggested we take a picnic – we could always eat it in the car if necessary – get in the car and see what happens, if it pours down we can turn around and come home, but at least she will have been out, seen some countryside and would have something to tell her neighbours.
I silently asked Dave if he could help with the weather and we set off in the direction of the canal junction.
Lo and behold, the rain stopped, the clouds cleared and the sun – yes, the sun! – came out. Whoopee! Here are some pics of Mum’s Birthday Trip out, which she said she enjoyed every minute of. She saw the boats, watched the ducklings and had her ice-cream. She was tired, but all smiles at the end of the day.
And I’m sure Dave had something to do with it. Thank you, we miss you.
(If you’re viewing this via email, you’ll need to click onto the blog to see the slideshow)
Copyright: Chris McGowan