Five minutes ago, I stood still in the middle of the field of meadow flowers near my childhood home. My eyes closed as I allowed the sun’s rays to soak through to my soul. Childhood memories of playing hide-n-seek in this very field came flooding back. I sensed rather than heard something coming toward me, and before I could react, I found myself flat on my back.
“What?” Stunned, I looked into the face of my assailant. A splendid golden retriever stood on my chest and dolloped a huge wet lick up my nose and across my eyes. “Yuck! Goldie, get off, you gorgeous thing!” I groaned, wiping my face and trying to push her off all in one movement.
“I am so sorry!” Puffed Goldie’s owner. “I have no idea why she would do that.”
I managed to shove Goldie off me, failed to avert my face in time and copped another huge lick. I sat up and faced my sister Janice, as I wiped my face again. She stopped. A big smile replaced the look of concern.
“Sarah!” She exclaimed. “Well, that explains why Goldie took off! I wasn’t expecting you till tomorrow.” She offered her hand and helped me up. We hugged.
“I was able to get off work earlier, and here I am, ta-da!”
Janice laughed and hugged me again. “It is so good to see you.”
Goldie bounded ahead as we pushed our way through the flowers to the house. It had been our childhood home. Janice has lived here now, on her own, since our mother’s death last year. I grabbed a bag out of my car on the way inside.
“Oh, I’d wondered whose car that was. Why didn’t you come in earlier?” Janice asked.
I shrugged. “I’m not sure.”
That was not entirely the truth, I may have been putting off the inevitable. Mum’s death had taken us by surprise. Not wanting to worry us, she didn’t tell us the doctor’s visits were about a lump she’d found on her left breast a couple of weeks before. She’d waited to tell us after she had a diagnosis. The cancer was so advanced that treatment was not an option, and she died a month later. Quick and relatively painless, that was the silver lining. I smiled to myself. Mum had been very fond of that saying.
Half an hour after our catch up chit-chat, Janice and I sat sipping hot tea and contemplating the two medium-sized boxes wrapped in rose-print paper in the middle of the kitchen table. It had taken us twelve months to decide, finally, to do this. “So,” said Janice. “Do we wait till tomorrow, or do we start now?”
I reached for one of the boxes and gently tipped out the contents. Years of wonderful memories; photographs of our childhood, mum’s childhood and family we didn’t know or had vague memories of, poured out onto the table. I glanced at her.