Today would have been Rosalind’s 83rd birthday, one that we might have celebrated with coffee and a shared slice of cake at the third-rate cafe by the tennis courts in Rushcutters Bay park. She’d have sat in a spot where the sun eased the bite of the harbour breeze, her father’s walking stick – sawn off to a more manageable length by my husband a few years back, then sanded smooth and oiled regularly by her – hooked over the back of a spare chair, her handbag on her lap, because you could never be too careful. We’d have watched the tennis players – some “lovely”, some “oh for god’s sake” – and her wispy grey curls would have shimmered like tinsel in the sunlight. Lucy the lab would have been at her side, chin resting on her leg, doleful green eyes pinned on that handbag, knowing Mum would have brought along a treat for while we were having ours. It would have been a “good day” – as modest as a day could possibly be – and ending with a jaunty salute of that walking stick as she walked down her driveway, back stiff, long, thin legs lost in her too-baggy trousers, not looking back.
“Don’t you dare toot the horn as you go,” she might have snapped before getting out of the car, for fear of her fellow inmates at the “village of the damned” complaining. “Not that they can hear anything – deaf as posts.”
She would have disappeared from my rear view mirror, and I’d have driven back up the drive, teary and guilty at leaving her alone, again.
There would have been an email by the time I got home – “Thanks for today. You looked well/tired/very smart/slimmer/much better than last time. Remember to make that hair appointment. Enjoy your evening. What’s for din-nah?” She’d have already eaten hers – a half cup of chicken noodle soup, perhaps, or a few spoonfuls of plain yoghurt.
So, while the world mourns the loss of David and Alan and Victoria and Prince – of so many brilliant strangers – forgive me if I really don’t give much of a shit. Because I still can’t shake off this far, far greater loss.
Which is why I’ve not been able to write anything on this blog since she died, because mostly I wrote for her, and often about her, and now she’s not here to be the first (and frequently only) person to comment, it’s kind of hard to get motivated.
“Oh, get a life,” she would have snorted.
And I will, eventually, but it may take a while. See you soon-ish.