Jaqui's Daily Blog

A List, a Funeral and Spending Your Dash

I am tidying up in our small bedroom when I come across one of Young Sam’s “lists”.


Sam is the Eldest of the Little Welsh Boys – and almost too old now, at seven, to be classified as “little.” Except by me.  He is a prolific writer who can always find a use for a piece of paper.  I still remember the “homework list” which I came across at Christmas, with numbered tasks such as “Redesine (sic) this form” and “Draw one large and one small animal.” Before the final task, the nature of which I have forgotten, he had written, encouragingly: “You have nearly finished. Keep going.”


When I was a littl’un, in the immediate post-War years, there was a national paper shortage. I can still remember how much my sister, Maggie, and I looked forward to the opening of a new bar of Palmolive soap, knowing that the bar inside would be wrapped up in a precious piece of soft white cardboard and an equally precious piece of tracing paper. We could write a story! Trace a picture from a story book! We truly did live in an almost paperless society in those far-off days.


Young Sam obviously had no trouble finding paper in our house. This newly discovered list reads as follows:


  1. Go to Poundland (Sam and James’s favourite shop. “Choose anything you want, boys,” I say expansively as we enter Poundland’s portals.)

  2. Make Ready, Jelly, Gos (the recipe is on my Cook Book page if you feel the need to investigate)

  3. Play a game

  4. Dress the Penguin.


I feel a bit sad as I read Sam’s list, clearly written last weekend when we all convened for Mr B’s birthday. The trouble is, with everything going on, we didn’t have much time for all the activities which the boys look forward to when they come to stay. So there was no visit to Poundland nor did we have time to make Ready, Jelly, Gos – though we did fit in a few games and we did dress the penguin amidst much hilarity. There is only one thing for it – I need to fit in a “Nanna Visit” to Cardiff and just as soon as possible. I will take packets of jelly and three bright pound coins, one for each Little Welsh Boy when we are on the bus and Poundland-bound.


This afternoon I went to the funeral of a really rather wonderful woman named Eileen. I didn’t know her personally – she was the mother of a dear friend of mine and I was there, with another mutual friend, to offer silent support – but I knew she was really rather wonderful because of the readings, tributes and poems read by her grandchildren.  Her grandson spoke of how she had led him to his Christian faith; one of her grand-daughters read a poem she had composed herself which spoke volumes for the closeness of a much-loved grandma.  Another read the eulogy – a beautifully worded description of a life well-lived and well-loved.


There is a poem you may or may not have heard, by Linda Ellis, called “The Dash Poem”. It talks about that little dash you see between the date of a person’s birth and the date of their death.  It doesn’t matter what we own, the cars, the house, the cash, the poet tells us, what matters is the way we spend our dash.


“So, when your eulogy is being read


With your life’s actions to rehash


Would you be proud of the things they say


About how you spent your dash?”


OK, so my Little Welsh Boys will remember that I spent my dash making Ready, Jelly, Gos and visiting Poundland.  There’s worse things to be remembered for, I suppose.


Eileen’s husband, children and grandchildren remembered her with single roses placed around her coffin, with tears and memories and lots of love. She would be very, very proud of the things they said about her.


Hers was, indeed, quite some dash...

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Latest comments

23.04 | 20:15

lovely and heartwarming - an inspiration to us all x

09.03 | 12:07

Love this story told as ever beautifully.x

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 13:17

I have broad shoulders x

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