I’ve been a little quiet these past two weeks, on account of busyness, putting up a shed (post to come soon), general “things to do”, and that fact that we had a bereavement in the family. I’ve been thinking about it a lot over the past week since it happened, and although I’m a step away from it, I can’t help but feel that my life keeps changing, intangibly (and plainly obviously) with each year that passes. You reach these milestones, where you become acutely aware that things will never be the same again, sometimes in ways that you never considered before, and the security that surrounds you as a child – with the older generations to look out for you and the ignorance of illness and age – is slowly chipped away. But I will always be in awe of the strength of the women in my family, who have each faced things that I could never imagine, and yet take on each day with a smile and a determination to make the most of it. They just keep marching on. But I think it’s because we know that really, we will never be alone.
Our family is quite matriarchal (owing to the fact that there are many of us girls), and in times of crisis, celebration, reflection or memory, we come together and we feast. Usually al-fresco, and we always bring far too much food to consume in one long, drawn-out afternoon sitting. Even in times of sadness, we manage to laugh. Because that’s the way we were raised, that’s the way our family has always operated. You come together, you eat, you share and unless it’s 5 degrees, snowing or sleeting, you feast outside amongst the flora and homegrown veg. I come from generations of gardeners, and some of my earliest, most comforting memories are of being out in the gardens of my parents and grandparents – Nannie popping pea pods at the garden table, Pappa digging in rows of potatoes, Mum pottering around and Dad fast asleep under the mid-summer sun. My sister and I digging out a flower patch, picking a weedy wildflower posy for my Mum for Mother’s Day, picking raspberries from bushes taller than I was, hanging upside down out of the plum tree or sturdier apple tree. I was always happy outside.
Life is infinitely more complicated now, and as I get older, I carry with me more sadness and many more memories, charged with emotion. But I know that there are many happy times ahead, and as long as I live, I will always have my family – older generations and new – and we will always come together to eat, drink and be merry, whenever the need arises. And there will always be a garden to accommodate us.