Dear Mum, it’s been easy not to miss you as we traveled but when we get home it will be different. Your house is sold and I will steal a glance as we pass. Will they keep the garden as well as you? Will it be always full of friends and laughter and the jug always on?
We fly home today and just in time to celebrate the one year anniversary of your passing. You won’t of course be there to greet us but I can see it play out in my mind.
You would be so happy to see us your whole body would be jumping with excitement. You would have been up for hours, ready and waiting. There would be asparagus rolls, club sandwiches and pikelets and maybe even sausage rolls or savouries Lindy would have picked up. The table would be beautiful and you would point out the flowers and even poke them in my face to smell where they would tickle my nose.
You would tell me I have to tell you about everything we saw as you wait, leaning in expectantly.
I would say it was a really good idea that we stopped at Tanjas in Amsterdam so we could settle in and find our feet and you would tell me what a lovely girl Tanja was and how she dropped everything to meet you, Marica and Maree in London.
I would tell you we felt so comfortable in Ireland and how Gilbert found driving easy there and the pubs were great. How we met Sheila that you wrote to for years but never had the chance to meet, and how together we went to see Damien O’Connor play the fiddle but he also played the squeezebox. You would tell me about the Dallys and how the squeezebox is similar. I would say Sheila is lovely with a permanent smile and you would say you could tell that Sent from my iPad
I would tell you we even enjoyed Northern Ireland and you would scowl and remind me how badly the southern Irish were treated. I would say that’s history Mum and we all have to move on. These are different people now and you would nod but you will never forget. I know that.
I would tell you we loved the old stately homes in England and Ireland and we joined the National Trust like you did and you would gush over the gardens you saw and tell me about the stinging nettle when you went for a walk, and how you use a dock leaf to soothe it which almost always grows nearby. How Marica got huge tips working in the pub there, and how when someone found out you were her Mother they put an expensive bottle of champagne on the table for you to drink, they all loved her so much. How tidy her room was with little baskets to store her stuff and how nice she made it for you. I would say we stopped in Wales and stayed on a farm and you would remember the beautiful countryside there too reminding you of home.
I would tell you about arriving on Brac and meeting Rina and Milan and how special that was and your eyes would shine as I talked about jumping off the rocks into the crystal clear water. You would say you never could swim and were always frightened of the water but how much Dad loved the water and maybe it was in his blood, as it is in mine. We would laugh about meeting the others and how much Rina and Tony teased each other. I will describe the lamb on the spit. What a gentle special man Milan is and how they all looked after us so well.
You will love to hear how Lindy enjoyed being with her girls and the fun we had going up the coast and staying in the different places on the way. You would tell me how beautiful Lindys girls are and what lovely daughters. You would tell me about how frightened you were arriving into Zagreb, the signs of war, patrolling army. How Tanja met you there because you couldn’t travel into Brac and how she came to you in the morning with bacon and eggs and how you understood how much effort she had gone to.
We would laugh about getting me getting frisked in Vancouver and again in Turkey and you would ask me the name of that plant that smells funny. “You know, you know”, you would say as you racked your memory and I would suddenly remember because you have asked me this every time you want to tell me about Santorini, whose name sounds the same. You will tell me about the vivid blue and white on the houses in the hills and how your knees ached with the walking up and down the steep clifflike pathways in Greece.
I would tell you about the Vatican and Rome. A place you never made it to, and you would listen in raptures as I described the Sistine Chapel and St Peters Basilica. You would tell me about Milan and how the women were slim and dressed so beautifully it made you feel shabby in your travel gear.
I will say we didn’t get to Paris, and you would wax lyrical about where you walked there and then tell me how the streets were littered and filthy but it was amazing just the same. We will both shake our heads at the lives of the rich and famous in Monaco and how we stopped to rest in Nice and you will understand exactly how we felt. I will talk of how beautiful the Pyrenees were and how staying with Marco and his family was special too. I will show you pictures of their wine cellar and you tell me about the Irishman who called to you for the wine tasting in St Emilion and how you bought a bottle that wasn’t as great as you thought it would be, but you kept the cork in case you got cramps.
You will remember that meal you had when you arrived into Barcelona and how delicious it was and you ate every bit. How you were so hungry you thought you would faint. You will tell me how you both bought chocolate for emergency rations but you ate all yours up and stole Maree’s as she slept and how she couldn’t believe it when she found out. You will talk about Gaudi and I will show you the photos I took and you will remember seeing the same and say “I told you, remember?”
You will love to hear about Morroco and Malaysia and I’ll show you the photos of the gardens and flowers we saw and loved. You will say you are so glad we are home and how much the kids missed us. I know this so clearly, because I know you.
I know you like I know myself because so much of you is in me and I’m glad about that. Like you I love to garden, to travel, to create, to dance, to Mother…to tell stories and by God this is one hell’va story Mum. I wish I could’ve shared it with you.