Twenty-three years ago this week, a couple of days after her 80th birthday, my mother passed away. She had no fear of death – "my final journey. I'll be going home".
Her faith was rock solid. When she embarked on that final journey I was with her in the Cornish nursing home. Although in a coma in her last days, I spent the time recalling shared simple, but precious countryside memories of my childhood.
Your hands delicately lifting a day-old chick from beneath the broody Rhode Island Red. Warm fingers in a feather-gentle touch placing it with reverence on my tiny palm.
Your hands spreading the cloth on the hayfield, on chamomile crushed by cartwheel and hoof. Scents mingling with the aroma of freshly baked buns, smothered in a melt of home-churned butter.
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Your hands drying my wet hair, ruffling the curls, fingers lingering over my burned cheeks. First glimpse of your body on that heat-filled day while bathing naked in the Crooked Oak.
Your hands picking wild strawberries, raspberries yellow and red, blackberries for the communion cordial. In the orchard, greengages, apples, damsons and plums. Juice in a trickle over my chin dabbed away by your fingers.
Hands held in mine, growing colder. A sudden surge of summer heat passing through me. With your final breath your parting gift, your spirit passing through me leaving behind – "the little boy I'd waited 16 years to arrive".
Your final journey to be reunited with parents, husband and sister-in-law, my aged maiden aunt.