It seems to be the season of "last times."
On Monday, the Birdy Group met for the last time until we reconvene in September. We ambled around the countryside surrounding
the beautiful village of Burpham before taking over a long table in the George & Dragon pub for coffee and a discussion about next year's programme. At least that was the intention of our leader, the Lovely Linda, who thought we might have some good ideas
about places beloved of our feathered friends, not too far distant so that we could fit in a visit, a walk, a bit of bird spotting and, potentially, finishing off with coffee and cake - all in the space of a morning.
We weren't much help, to be honest. I should have given the matter a lot more thought - all I could muster up was a wish that we lived nearer to Hengistbury Head where my Brother in Law Baz would be able to lead us on a fantastic Birdy walk, Baz being
just about the best Spotter of Birds Hiding High Up in Trees or Low Down in Hedgerows that I know. A country walk with Baz lasts ten times as long as you think it will because every few minutes he'll stop dead in his tracks, pointing upwards. "See that!" he
will say. To which I will respond, despairingly: "Where? Where?"
It's been the last time at school or college for lots of youngsters, which these days means Prom Time, something which never existed when I
was a school-girl. I love seeing the photos of them, all dressed up and with somewhere to go - my beautiful granddaughter Eleanor among them, smiling broadly as she poses for the obligatory photo on the stairs at home. Her sister Katie sends me a collage showing
both sisters ready for their Prom - three and a half years apart. The dresses may be different - one short, one long - but they have the exact same hair-style - and the exact same smile.
Later this month it
will be the last time our Nomination Whist group will meet until September. I will present prizes for the Best Average, the Highest Score, the Most Improved Player. The calculations will take hours of my time, my concentration on the calculator constantly
interrupted by Mr B wanting to know if he still reigns supreme or whether he has been overtaken by a Cunning Usurper.
More poignantly, the Middle of the Darling Daughters is bewailing a "last time" for Young
Faris the Rascal. Despite his undoubted way with words when writing the Daily Blog, Our Rascal has generally mainly communicated in his very own, strangely evocative, language. "Nyoddy!" he would command, taking your hand and leading you firmly in the direction
he wanted you to go. It was his way of saying: "I need you!"
We always obeyed his instruction. It would have been rude not to. His mother tells the story of him sitting on the floor with The Twinkles, all
playing happily together - until he stood up, very much the Big Brother, saying: "Nyoddy!" At which Tala and Lilia immediately rose to their feet and trotted off behind him.
But there had to be a last time.
"Today my little son took my hand and said: 'Come!' I think his 'Nyoddy' has gone for ever," the Middle of the Darling Daughters mourned. Every mother will know how she feels.
There is a lovely poem called
"The Last Time" which recounts the way you never know when it will be the last time you feel your child clamber on your lap or hug you at the school gate. I remember putting the Eldest of the Darling Daughters to bed when she was tiny, how she always asked
to be "tucked in a hole" - which meant wrapping the blankets tightly around her little body. When was the last time she said that? Did I even realise it was, indeed, the last time?
Faris was pleased to see
me on Wednesday. He took my hand in his, drawing me towards the shelves where all manner of exciting board games were stored. "Come!" he commanded me. Like his mother, I wept a little inside where nobody would notice.
"Nyoddy!" I told my youngest grandson. Silently.