RECENTLY I’ve been made uncomfortably aware of the cycle of life as most of my parents’ generation shift off this mortal coil.
When Mr F’s father died last month, someone pointed out that we are now both orphans, conjuring up pictures of urchins with flat caps. Is there no other way to describe parentless adults?
Last week I returned to my roots in dear old Brum to pay my respects to Auntie Peggy, who was married to my dad’s brother and played a big part in my childhood.
I thought I’d arrived at the wrong chapel when the notice outside said it was the funeral of Margaret Dyson Parsons.
Apparently this impressive middle name – worthy of a contemporary celebrity child, but strange for a 90-year-old – was a family moniker from her Durham roots.
It was good to see my cousin Geoff and his family, who have now settled in this country after leaving Zimbabwe, their home for several decades.
Conditions were so bad there, they had no running water for months and it wasn’t safe to leave their home at night. Makes the ‘Broken Britain’ doom-mongers sound daft, doesn’t it?
After the funeral, I drove over to see where my grandparents used to live.
The front of the house looked the same and I immediately slipped back to a time of ham salad teas (always with watercress) and my nana’s Victoria sponge topped with sparkly caster sugar.
Then the long journey home clutching a fresh bouquet from her garden – marigolds, lavender, lupins and mint.
Some of the bushes in the front garden looked the same. How strange that I remembered their shapes.
We lived on the other side of Birmingham, 20 miles away, and I always secretly hoped that on the crowded second bus home there might be a drunk who would curse and stagger every time the bus braked.
I vividly remember the smell of alcohol and the prospect of danger, but feeling very safe.
Wedged between Mum and Dad, my pom-pom hat tied neatly under my chin, I never believed for a minute that one day my parents wouldn’t be around.