Today is Thankful Friday. It is also my last working day before Christmas.
Today I am thankful that I had a woman named Muddle in my life. I knew her for 24 years this month. Today is her funeral – Ma and Pa are going, but as it’s my last day of work, I cannot be there to say goodbye.
I will miss her, but I’m very grateful she got to see my lovely flat earlier in October – ‘You’ve done well!’ she told me as I gave her the guided tour – and that we shared the fabulous adventure of Big Bro’s wedding, where I commandeered The Rent’s Renault Espace home from the airport after Pa demolished his face on the bar over breakfast and had to have his nose put back together in Clogland.
She was amazing then, and she was amazing right from when I was 6 years old. I remember I used to help her plant the new bulbs in her incredible garden, share endless chats over cups of tea, take walks on the common, and there’s no forgetting the foggy drive up the hill from the school disco with Jenny M. She was also amazing at offering me her kitchen table for exam revision, keeping me fed and watered as I worked in the quiet peace of her house. It became something of a tradition – yearly exams, GCSEs, A-levels, I often found myself at Muddle's house.
For two years or there abouts, she used to collect Big Bro and me from school, bombing up the hills in her little red Peugeot, yelling at drivers who she felt were in the wrong and zooming this way and that. Whenever I find myself refusing to give way on a narrow road, I always think of Muddle, and her gung-ho driving – it was incredible.
It’s strange when someone who had such a big part in your life leaves it. I mean, I didn’t see her as much after I moved to London as she was in the Wild West erm… Country, but she still rang me on my birthday every year and we kept in touch through The Rents, as I found her tricky to hear on the phone.
But then there are the moments when I think, I should have popped in to see her more often on the way back from Jenny M’s, or, if only I had sent out my birthday thank you cards sooner – she died the week I wrote and stamped, but forgot to post her letter. There are so many what ifs, that you could tie yourself in knots.
But then I just remind myself that Muddle was not one for what ifs. She was one for now. She did 20 years without the love of her life and died right beside the little urn she kept his ashes in while trying to break to ice on her pond to let the fish breathe. She died as eccentrically as she lived. And if she knew I was feeling sad today, she’d chide me, give me a stale Jammy Dodger and weak tea and a waist hug, as I outgrew her when I was about 10 years old.
What I wouldn’t give for one more hug from Muddle. One more batty road trip. One more reminisce with her.
Life is short when you meet someone who is already 60 years older than you. So grab those people you love and tell them today. Make that phone call, post that letter, take that road trip, be the person with no regrets.
Be like Muddle, for as far as I can tell, she had none.