Sixty-five years ago today my Dad took me by the hand and led me into the back bedroom to meet my new baby sister. It's my first, clear memory.
Today my lovely sister
celebrated her birthday - at the zoo. Forever young, that's my Maggie. I wasn't there, except in spirit, but my nephew and godson posted several photos on Facebook over the course of the day so you could say I kept in touch.
The next few weeks are full of birthdays. The Twinkles, Tala and Lilia, will be One. As in, one each, you understand. Before that, it's their mum's birthday so she will be bringing her Trio down to see us on a Flying Birthday Visit next week. I shall
make a cake, in honour of the occasion. It will probably look much like all the other cakes I have made in recent months; when you find a winning formula, stick to it. Maggie would be much more adventurous. Her birthday cakes are the Stuff of Legends.
The Youngest of the Darling Daughters also has birthdays on her mind - Our Jack will be 18 in a month's time, the second of our Tremendous Ten grandchildren to Come Of Age. She telephones me today to talk about table-cloths,
scones and Ready Jelly Gos. She seems to remember, she says, that I used to possess white table-cloths. Do I still have them? As we discuss table coverings of various shapes and sizes, I am pulling towels, sheets, pillow cases, napkins and table-cloths out
of the airing cupboard into an untidy and crumpled heap on the floor. Yes, indeed, other people do have perfectly organised airing cupboards, with neat piles of snowy linen on each tidy shelf. My airing cupboard has clearly been stocked by someone blessed
with the Usher Gene, as a result of which she can always find room for just one more double duvet.
Sheets would do, suggests the Youngest of the Darling Daughters, do I have single sized flat sheets? I leave
the contents of the airing cupboard on the landing carpet and turn out the contents of all four drawers under the double bed in the spare room. I had no idea I had quite so much bed linen until I saw it all strewn over the bedroom floor...
We reckon fruit scones would be a good idea for the party tea. Everyone likes a scone, now don't they? Especially with delicious jam and lashings of cream. I recklessly sign up to be a Maker of Scones. I will make an experimental
batch or two over the coming week, just to check out my Scone Related Culinary Expertise. Mr B will be delighted.
Then there are the Ready Jelly Gos - check out my Cook Book page. I've been making them for
kiddies' parties for so many years; it will make Our Jack laugh, we think, to serve them up at his party. We hope. I am, incidentally, experiencing a bit of a problem sourcing orange and green jellies these days - if any loyal blog readers know a shop that
stocks them, please let me know.
So much to talk about, to plot and plan for. The Youngest of the Darling Daughters and I are meeting up in London on Wednesday. We will, undoubtedly, be Talking Birthday.
Talking birthday, my sister contacts me on FaceTime, via her new I-Pad birthday present. She wants to know if she was born before midnight or after midnight, bearing in mind the first time I saw her was early
in the morning. As I was only three at the time, I imagine I was tucked up abed by six thirty in the evening so my memory is not to be relied on. What did she look like? my sister wants to know. I only wish I could remember more than a woolly blanket, a round
face, our mum beaming at me.
I am thinking, however, about all the really important things I didn't know on that November morning. Like being there for each other in the happiest times and the saddest.
Like laughing at the same silly jokes, crying at the same poignant moments, holding the same values - family, love, loyalty.
Happy Birthday to my Little Sister, special as you are. I never knew, on that first
November morning, just how much we would share over the years to come. And how important you would be to me.