This morning I received a lovely surprise in the post. A large box filled with memories of my wonderful sister Sue, who very sadly died far too early on from lung cancer in 2007. My sister was 60 when she died and the cancer was brought on by her life time habit of heavy smoking. When Sue met Mandy who became her civil partner, Mandy objected so much to the smoking, Sue was banished to the garden shed where she festooned the walls with posters of Clint Eastwood and installed a comfy armchair. There she and I would sit and Sue would smoke and we would chat and look at her very beautiful and rather eccentric garden. There was a large monkey puzzle tree in the garden and so my sister hung lots of toy monkeys purchased from local charity shops, up there in the top branches where they would swing around in the breeze and look down at us, grinning. Another was gaily hung with sparkling CD`s, a sort of alternative Christmas tree. Everywhere on the ground you would stumble upon small ceramic animals, hedgehogs, birds, gnomes and fairies. The garden was filled with flowers of so many varieties; it was a burst of vivid and gorgeous colour wherever you looked and secrets hidden in every corner.
Shortly before my sister died we were talking about smoking and Sue turned to me and said, “Do you know Hel, in spite of it all I can honestly say there isn`t one cigarette I haven`t thoroughly enjoyed.” Those of us who still miss her so much, could hardly disagree but I`d much rather she were still here.
My sister`s things were posted to me by my niece Sarah. They had been a while coming to me because in spite of also being diagnosed with a usually much more aggressive type of cancer, Mandy had survived my sister by this much time. Sadly Mandy died too, earlier this year and now the house will be put up for sale. Times change and all is well.
I took the box to work with me to open up when I got to my office. This was a bit of a mistake as I instantly began blarting, but happily so, happy to receive such lovely tokens of my sisters` love. Inside were all sorts of magical things, lots of the silver rings that Sue loved so much (thank you Sarah) silver bangles, precious photographs, a beautiful trinket dish, a glass heart. Best of all though was a book called “Hel and Sue`s Pomes. A Collection.” Sue and I would pen in a few of our favourite poems, sometimes ones we had written ourselves, and then send the book to each other year on year on our birthdays and every year we would add more. I opened it up and a photograph of my daughter Becky fell out so she must have held a special place in Sue`s heart. the memories have come flooding back to me now that I have begun reading these wonderful poems again after such a long time.
Here are a couple of my favourites:
New Every Morning.
Every day is a fresh beginning,
Listen my soul to that glad refrain.
And, spite of old sorrows
And older sinning,
And possible pain,
Take heart with the day and begin
Susan Coolidge 1835 – 1905
Here is one that Sue wrote:
Once when I was a child
I found the skeleton of a mouse
Buried in the vinegar scented cellar
Of my father`s shop
It was ivory – intricate,
I put it into a glass jar and gave it to some-one I loved.
Perhaps we spend our lives
Offering to those we love
A fragile skeleton
Enclosed in glass
If we are lucky we note
Only hairline cracks –
Thankful that the glass does not shatter –
The skeleton remains intact.
Sue Coulson. 1947 – 2007
(I think Sue must have been using poetic license there as dad`s shop didn`t have a cellar, it did have a long entry where he stored the banana crates….. I think it must have been here that she found the mouse skeleton)
Here`s another one Sue liked:
I would live all of my life in nonchalance
Were it not for making a living,
Which is rather a nouciance.
Ogden Nash. 1902 – 1971
And one of mine…..
Becky`s Rhino Rap.
Her name is Becky and she`s an Inman
And she`s got more balls than a brawny bin man
She`s a lap dancer and she`s ok
She bounces her boobs in a natural way
She shakes her ass and wiggles that butt
And she gets paid for it, for pleasing nuts!
She raises a smile
And that`s not all
She`s a funky Rhino dancer
And she`s got balls!
Helen Pitt. March 2004
(Composed following a conversation with my daughter when we pondered what it would be like to become a lap dancer. Spearmint Rhino had just opened midst a huge furore in Birmingham)
And my favourite one of mine…..
The Song of the Lovesick Octopus.
I want you to know dear
My heart is rich with gravity
Please slip your octopus arm in here
And fill my mantel cavity.
I want to float in the surf with you
And murmer the words, “be mine”
I am slippy and slimy and wet from the sea,
Yours fishily, just give me a sign.
I need you to do that special trick
The one where you change your hue,
And watch as the blush spreads
Along your arms
And entangle myself with you
And can you do your shape changer bit,
And morph into something special,
A chair, a bed, a bar of soap,
Let`s have an octopus wrestle.
I need to swim in the brine with you
It`s hopeless, I wish you could see.
Please take me to heaven,
Wrap your legs up in mine,
And make octopus love with me.
Helen Pitt. Valentines Day 2004.
It`s hard to believe that I wrote this poem for the Australian. Hard to believe I once loved this man, that much. (https://anightinwithnelly.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/a-letter-to-the-australian/)
Hey ho. Times change and all is well.
I am ever so happy to have been given these things of my sisters and will leave this blog with a comment from my darling niece:
“The little plate I`ve sent you used to live on Ma`s side of the bed. I really love it but I`m not really a knick-knack type of person. It may have something to do with the fact that both my parents crammed/cram as much stuff/things/artefacts/junk/collectibles and shite into and onto every available space……..”
Well I am a knick-knack type of person Sarah and thank you again so much. You have made my day.week/month/year. 🙂