It was a very long drive. On a very hot day. But some things just Have To Be Done.
Mr B and I were driving to Kent to visit his cousin, Doreen, who is 95 years old and
Indomitable. Except that, having fallen out of bed the night before, her Indomitability was under a certain amount of strain. When I telephoned her just before we left home to remind her that we were coming and should arrive on her doorstep in approximately
two hours time, she had clearly forgotten we were coming.
Not to worry, I said cheerfully, I was bringing chicken soup, baguette, home-made apple and blackberry pie plus cream with us so there was no need
to worry about anything at all. Doreen sounded relieved - and happy at the thought of visitors. Especially ones bearing chicken soup and home-made pie.
The reason why Mr B is so much younger than his cousin
is because her mother was one of the first born in a family of thirteen children, while Mr B's father was one of the last born. I know all this because Doreen had loaned me, on our last visit, a veritable treasure trove of photographs and birth, marriage and
death certificates. As a result I had managed to draw up a pictorial chart of all the children of Arthur John Ball and their off-spring - which was a welcome diversion from trying to locate a particularly stubborn ancestor of mine, hidden somewhere on my own
family tree and refusing to be found.
That borrowed treasure trove was the other reason why we needed to pay Doreen a visit - we had to return her precious haul of family memories. Mr B said why didn't we
just post the whole packet back to her - but, family historian that I am, I simply couldn't take the risk of them going Missing In Transit. I would never, ever have forgiven myself.
Mr B, in the passenger
seat, was supposed to be navigating but his skills as a satnav leave much to be desired in my opinion. However as my driving, in his opinion, leaves just as much to be desired, you could say that by the time we arrived at our destination we were both equally
hot and bothered - but the honours were even.
Cooking in Doreen's kitchen was a challenge as I couldn't for the life of me find bowls or saucepans, nor could I light the gas cooker. I felt quite ridiculously
proud of myself when I finally worked out the controls on the microwave and had the astonishing brainwave of using mugs for our soup. We set down to quite a feast, though I say so myself as shouldn't (as my dear Mum would have chided me.) By the time we had
laced our (cold) apple and blackberry pie with cream, we were a Merry Threesome indeed. They say, don't they, that chicken soup is Food for the Soul? If that is, indeed, true then my choice was an excellent one, especially as it could be dispensed in a mug.
I have written about the Indomitable Doreen before - she is, I told her, one of my role models should I live to the Truly Great Age of 95. I admire the way she never accepts help with anything until she has tried it
for herself. "Don't you dare wash up!" she warned me, "I will need something to do after you've gone!" I have enormous respect for anyone who, at the age of 95, still exercises daily and faces each day with pleasure at still being alive, still enjoying the
company of Charlie the budgerigar, still able - despite her failing eye-sight and with the help of a magnifying glass - to study the photographs of our family we brought to show her.
Most of all, I love the way she never goes to sleep without a "goodnight" phone call to her younger sister. "They put us to shame!" commented my own Little Sister when I relayed this remarkable fact to her. I like to think, however, that if we two were
living alone, in our Old Age,we might perhaps do the same.
Love Between Sisters. The Indomitable Doreen knows just how important it is.
As so do I.