I still remember the day Young Sam, eldest of my (Not So Very Little) Welsh Boys, and I truly connected.
He was about fifteen
months old and had arrived, with his mum and dad (being too small, you understand, to travel alone) at the home of the Youngest of the Darling Daughters. I can’t remember the occasion but I do know that all the four oldest grandchildren were there, the
house was full of people, full of noise. With his parents busily unpacking their car, this tiny mite looked terrified. The noise! The people! All of a sudden amidst all the strangeness he recognised me - and moved determinedly over to my side. Where he stayed,
clearly feeling safe and sound, while the rumpus raged around the two of us. I have never felt more, well, needed.
Since then I have obviously shrunk considerably.
That small boy now towers above me and today he celebrates his fifteenth birthday. Yes, we do have a lot of birthdays to celebrate at this time of year. I’m forever running out of letters for my recycled birthday banners and having to cut out new ones.
Fifteen! It’s that strange age isn’t it when you are no longer a child but haven’t quite attained adult status. It’s the Inbetweenie-Age. I recently
found the diary I kept when I was fifteen which I read avidly in search of some clues to how I turned out to be the person I am today. It wasn’t exactly riveting reading. I seemed to spend all my time either revising for a test, sitting a test, or awaiting
the results of a test. School in those days was a Testing Business. I also seemed to go to town a lot with my Little Sister, Maggie, though what we found to do in Sittingbourne Town Centre (not the most exciting of retail environments) is not recorded. We
also helped around the house a lot which is highly commendable, and I was a keen knitter, then as now.
I still treasure several of Sam’s art works, especially
a pencil drawing of me (you can tell it’s me because of the curly hair and the cross I always wear - Sam as a young artist was very observant) arriving at Cardiff Railway Station aboard the Zoo Train. You can tell it’s a Zoo Train because all the
passengers, with the exception of Yours Truly, are animals, including a giraffe which, for perfectly understandable reasons, travels in an open top carriage. So packed with four legged passengers is the train, in fact, that I am balanced precariously on the
roof, at a safe distance from a large lion prowling in the carriage below. It is, in my eyes, a Masterpiece. All these years on, I’m continuing to collect his works of art, the latest being his Christmas card from last year. Sam’s Christmas Robin
is still on show on the hall window-sill.
I fear Sam did not inherit his artistic talents from me but maybe I did lend him the art of story-telling. When the boys
were little and I told them bedside stories about the Jolly Boys Boat, Sam was never content to simply listen but always managed to send the plot into uncharted waters. His flights of imagination were a great challenge to my own powers of tale-telling.
For our family, as for so many others, 2020 was a year of enforced separation. I didn’t see Sam and his brothers for nearly a year - and remember, if it seemed
a long time to me, then a year in a fifteen year old’s life is an age indeed. When we do meet, however, it’s just like old times. Except that now he is tall and I am small…
Fifteen can be a challenging age. I like to think - or at least to hope - that whenever we see each other and he comes to give me a hug, he recognises me as an ally, a safe harbour, as he did all those many years ago when he was just
Happy 15th birthday, dear Sam. I’m so very sorry I can’t be with you today - but watch out for me, hopefully sometime soon, on the