Let­ter to my Mum

Kent Life - - On The Mic -

‘I hope they’re spoil­ing you rot­ten, no more slav­ing away in a hot kitchen’

Andy raises a small glass of medium sherry to his beloved Mum, who will be so missed this Christ­mas

I’m miss­ing you... Dear Mum, This is the first Christ­mas you haven’t been here. We’ve spent Christ­mases apart be­fore of course, in­evitable in this mod­ern era of ge­o­graph­i­cally dis­parate fam­i­lies. But you’ve al­ways been there, if not in per­son, then al­ways on the end of the phone, the en­dur­ing moth­erly prom­ise of a sea­son’s greet­ings and a spir­ited ren­di­tion of We wish you a Merry Christ­mas. And now you’re not, and I miss you.

Never again will I get the chance to see your plate piled high with Christ­mas fare, tee­ter­ing moun­tains of veg and great slabs of meat all swim­ming in lovely unc­tu­ous gravy.

Af­ter­wards, your dish would al­ways be cleared, not a scrap wasted, I fully un­der­stood why you were like this –grow­ing up in the 1930s and 40s, life was hard and food was scarce; if it was put in front of you, you ate it.

But come Christ­mas, food was a treat to savour, the meat to be com­mented upon. Ten­der, melt-inthe-mouth and flavour­some, with any­thing left over from the turkey car­cass care­fully pack­aged away for ‘cold’ later in the day.

You had a sweet tooth too, right to the end. Qual­ity Street and sug­ared al­monds bought well in ad­vance, but never again will you tuck into the dark, fruity Christ­mas pud­ding and re­count the fa­mil­iar fam­ily story of Un­cle Bob pulling a ten-shilling note from the cream and brandy but­ter in his bowl to the ex­cited de­light of my older sib­lings and cousins.

My ear­li­est me­mories of Christ­mas are our house full of Un­cles and Aun­ties. All gone now, as you your­self said so poignantly, you were the last one, out­liv­ing them all and Dad and two of your own chil­dren. You al­ways be­lieved you would meet them again – and I truly be­lieve this Christ­mas you’re sur­rounded by ev­ery­one who’s ever loved you. Well al­most ev­ery­one.

I hope they’re spoil­ing you rot­ten too, no more slav­ing away in a hot kitchen. I’m imag­in­ing you on Christ­mas morn sip­ping dain­tily on a small, medium sherry. Do they have sherry in heaven? I hope so, you’d like that. The last one wear­ing their Christ­mas hat, a tra­di­tion I’ve qui­etly tried to con­tinue.

You were al­ways up for post­meal game time. Cards usu­ally, Whot!, Knock­out whist, Rummy or New­mar­ket – never for money, only for match­sticks. Tra­di­tional board games too, like Topps, Scrab­ble or Mo­nop­oly.

I wish we could play now. I wish we could do any­thing to­gether, I wish you could see how the girls are grow­ing up. You would love the fact that num­ber two is play­ing foot­ball. I can imag­ine you on the touch­line on Box­ing Day, shout­ing en­cour­age­ment like you did for me.

Things are dif­fer­ent now Mum; you have to let the coaches do the coach­ing and you can’t ber­ate the ref any more! That’s not good sport.

I’m pic­tur­ing you in the win­ter cold, your long coat and warm fleece-lined brown boots, stamp­ing to keep warm, but never miss­ing a game. Come rain, wind or shine you’d be there and ever present. And now you’re gone.

Ex­cept that you’re not gone, are you? Not re­ally. How can you be, when I can con­jure up all these tiny de­tails in an in­stant?

I ex­pect I’ll glance to my left in church this ad­vent, smil­ing as we draw a deep breath for the des­cant of Ding Dong Mer­rily on High. I’ll look and you won’t be there, ex­cept that you will be, in my heart, now and al­ways.

Happy Christ­mas Mum. I miss you.



Andy Gar­land

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