“Do you think we will recognise them?” Mr B and I asked each other.
Even before we had come to any kind of conclusion,
another thought thought suddenly struck us: “Will they recognise US!?”
It must be twenty years since we last saw our cousins from Kent. We have
stayed in touch, as so many of us do, through Christmas cards containing quick updates on their family and ours, but there’s only so much you can say in a Christmas card. Even my seasonal Round Robin letters are short on detail. There is nothing like
getting together, face to face, for a proper catch up.
Such a delight it was when we received a phone call out of the blue - our cousins would be holidaying in
Bexhill the following week and would love to come and visit, if we were up to it? Well, you know us - up for anything, especially when it involves (i) family; (ii) company; and (iii) conversation. Yes, please! we said. Another opportunity to make use of the
Room Outdoors - which these days is doubling up as a bit of a Party Room. I haven’t yet gone as far as to instal a band (as suggested by Handy Andy who built the decking) but give me time. It’s Her Maj’s Platinum Jubilee next year, on the
weekend of my birthday and our wedding anniversary, so the prospect of a family “do” in the back garden is becoming more and more irresistible…
however, is a consideration for the future. My more immediate concern was what kind of food to prepare for our unexpected guests. I settled on Afternoon Tea which, with the addition of a bottle of Prosecco, struck me as appropriately celebratory for a Cousinly
Reunion. Mr B agreed in principle, only registering a request for our tea party to be in the early afternoon rather than the late afternoon. When it comes to food, Mr B isn’t too good at waiting…
I am happy to report that the reunion went really, really well. It didn’t matter one iota that we have all changed over the twenty years or more since we last met - we had a shared family history, a keen interest in
each other’s children and grandchildren, and so, so much to catch up on.
“What happened to…?”
“Do you remember when..?”
“When was the last time you saw…?”
Mr B, as a child, was very close to this cousin, his two brothers, his mother and father. In the days before we married and moved away from Kent, I grew close to them too. It’s easy to forget
just how much we had - and still have - in common.
This was never more apparent than in the story of Grandma’s lilies. I may have told you the story of the
arum lilies which decorated the church on our wedding day, all carefully picked from Mr B’s beloved Grandma’s garden. Descendants from the original plants now grow and thrive in our back and front gardens, and those of our family. The latest family
member to take possession of one of Grandma’s lilies was our eldest granddaughter Katie, when she moved into her first home with her boyfriend. He, poor fella, was almost overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for the tender plant and not allowing
it to perish on his watch. I had to reassure him that Grandma’s lilies (rather like Grandma herself when she was alive) are the stalwart type and have survived and thrived through good times and bad.
The lily season is long over but our visitors couldn’t help but notice the large bed of still-green-and-stately lily leaves next to our front door. What’s more they could produce a photo of their own home, with
a bed of beautiful lilies stretching all along one wall. We quickly established that their lilies, like ours, had had their origin in Grandma’s garden.
our visitors finally departed it was with assurances on both sides that we would keep in touch. It was comforting, however, to think that over all these years we didn’t see each other, we were still connected - had we but known it - by Grandma’s