I always feel sorry for people who don’t have a sister. Especially for everyone who doesn’t have a sister like mine.
Every time I spend time with her, I feel it anew. The last couple of days are a typical example.
Maggie and her fella, Baz, arrived around 6.30 p.m. on
Wednesday. We weren’t expecting them until later so I felt bad that we hadn’t arranged to share an evening meal on their first night with us. I had, however, bought Manor House cake (other light fruit cakes are surely available if you look hard
enough) which is something of a tradition. As regular readers know, as a family we are Strong On Tradition. You know that opening number in Fiddler on the Roof, when patriarchal Tevye stomps about the stage, declaiming “Tradition!” Well, that’s
us. Though rather less theatrical.
Their early arrival did, however, give us another two hours of Chances To Chat and we were not about to waste it. As Mr B said,
predictably, there was no danger of our jaws rusting. For a starter, there was a lot of family news to impart. Our two families had a shared childhood incorporating huge Family Christmases and several memorable summer holidays. There might be too many of us
to fit in anyone’s house these days, what with seventeen grandchildren between us, but shared history means we are endlessly interested in each other’s offspring and the Offspring of the Offspring. We don’t get to bed until 11.30 p.m....
The following day we decided to enjoy a late brunch. We sat round the dining room table for ages before deciding to move into the garden where we could continue our conversation.
As you do. Having failed to apply any sun cream, I slowly turned an unbecoming shade of bright red in the warm sun shine. Meanwhile Baz, who loves nothing more than a project to keep him occupied, decided to unblock one of my drains. Greater love hath no man
for his sister-in-law than to wrestle with a blocked drain on her behalf. He also watered the garden and drilled holes in one of my plant pots in a bid to rescue a drowning fuchsia plant (it didn’t look as if it had much of a fuchsia, if you will excuse
a very bad joke) and even glued the wings back onto the fairy that sits amid the flower pots in my garden.
I took our visitors to the Wedding Garden at nearby
Field Place. Between us, my sister and her fella, Mr B and I have totted up 101 years of marriage; I showed them the fountain with the two flying swans. Swans mate for life, don’t you know? Like the four of us. We took a souvenir selfie. As you do.
On Friday morning they joined me at choir (we sang Marching Through Georgia in honour of yesterday’s 4th July celebrations Across The Pond) then they cooked up a splendid
stir fry (prawns for the fellas, chicken for the girlies) before it was time to bid a fond farewell. I can’t put into words how much I appreciate the way they make time for us in their busy, busy lives.
Ah, yes, I had forgotten their birthday present and such a very special one at that. I thought they had already given me a beautiful present, a model robin to pose on a fence post where he will doubtless confuse the resident
robins in our garden until they can get the measure of him.
Baz places a carefully wrapped present on my lap. It feels very, very heavy. I unwrap it carefully.
Underneath the wrapping I find our family. Made out of pebbles. Four pebble figures for the Swift family, five for the Adlis, four for Team Baldwin, five for our (Not So Very Little) Welsh Boys and their parents. In the middle, two figures representing Mr
B and me.
It has taken forty pebbles, small and large, of many different colours, to shape our family.
So many pebbles.
So much love.