Thursday, November 19, 2009

One happy return!

I don't know about 'many happy returns', but this is an amazing case of 'one happy return'.

Where do I begin . . . it’s very difficult to tell a story when you're lost for words. When something has happened that is so unlikely . . . so totally unpredictable . . . so heart-warming that it robs you of speech . . . so strange that it sends shivers down your spine.

Do you know what I mean?
Stupid question . . . of course you don’t . . . I haven’t told you.
Let me try to pull myself together and explain.

As you know, today is my birthday. Cards have been arriving for several days, but this morning brought the biggest collection. Humbled and delighted by the wad of post, I settled down to read the greetings.
Amongst the envelopes was one from a cousin in Sussex. At first this seemed to be a total coincidence . . . it's years since this cousin and I have exchanged birthday cards. Christmas cards, yes, phone calls and visits, yes, but birthdays have been largely forgotten.
Nonetheless, this looked like a card, it was the shape of a card . . . I opened the envelope, and, sure enough, a card came out. But . . . and this was the surprise . . . it was not just one card. Inside the birthday card had been tucked an ageing post-card, and it was this post-card that caused those shivers that I mentioned earlier. The post-card bore my mother's hand-writing.

What was going on? I felt totally bemused, my mother has been dead for sixteen years.
In search of enlightenment, I returned to the birthday card and read the message . . . I then read the post-card . . . and, slowly, the story made sense . . . wonderful, incredible sense.

Forty years ago, almost to the day, my mother had clearly wondered whether my young cousins would remember their elder cousin's birthday. Knowing how much I would value their greeting, she had sent them a postcard. After telling them how much she was looking forward to seeing them, and enquiring after their hobbies and interests, she had diplomatically made mention of the fact that my birthday was approaching, and how much she knew I would love to hear from them.

It's far too long ago to remember, but I'm sure I received the card that my mother had cleverly organised.
What she could not have foreseen was that her postcard would have survived. That it would have been put in my cousin's scrapbook, to remain there, undisturbed and unread, for forty years.

A few weeks ago, clearing out a cupboard, my cousin had come across the ancient scrapbook . . . taken out the card . . . read it . . . and realised to her surprise that, once again, my birthday was fast approaching! So . . . just as she had done all those years ago, and once again at mother's prompting, she had sent me this pair of unexpected greetings!

Is it any wonder that I'm still lost in wonder and amazement? A card from my mother on my birthday . . . ?

How on earth (or from heaven!) did she manage that . . . but, there you are, I've always said that I had a very ingenious mother!