She had to have the last word!

Bury

Sylvie always had to have the last word, no matter what.

As it turned out, this even was to be the case when it came to her death.

It was a cold Thursday evening in mid January and I had popped in to Sylvie’s to pick up my daughter on my way home from work.

On the stove was one of Sylvie’s lovely stews, bubbling away and smelling delicious. As I was helping myself to spoonful, Sylvie was trying to get me to have a bowlful of another of her specialties – a treacle suet pudding. I laughed and said no, I just wanted a taste and that dinner would be waiting for me at home.

Sylvie followed me down the hallway to the front door to see me out. As we opened the front door, a freezing cold blast of air swirled in and we shivered, pulling our clothes tight around us.

I gave Sylvie a peck on the cheek saying, “See you tomorrow,”  and adding, “Get yourself inside out of the cold and keep the heat in.”

Looking up to the sky, Sylvie replied, ” I reckon we’re going to get some of that bloody snow from America.”  (The east coast of America had suffered heavy snow falls that week.)

She died suddenly and unexpectedly at Home the next morning.

One week late it was Sylvie’s funeral. She had wanted to be cremated, and so we decided to bury her ashes in her mother’s grave.

As we stood at the graveside in heavy snow, freezing and ankle deep, I looked to the sky and said to myself, “You were right weren’t you, we got that snow from America. – You’d have to have the last bloody word!”

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I could have done it with one hand tied behind my back!

Polish

The endless hours spent on domestic chores; washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning and such had equipped me perfectly for the subject of Home Economics (as it was known at that time). It was the days when girls were given lessons at school on how to properly iron a shirt, to cook, how to properly polish the furniture and to clean the home.

Producing the pastry to make a pie was second nature to me, and the ironing of a shirt was something I could have done with my eyes closed. The daily task of generating a meal for anything from eight to twelve of us was something I had been having to do for years.

I’m sure it is a subject I could easily have obtained a one hundred per cent grade at ‘O’ level,  had I continued it as one of my options, but the years I did have to participate in the lessons were something that was to cause me a constant headache.

Every week we were given a list of ingredients to bring along for the next week’s lesson,  to cook up the chosen recipe ourselves. Every week I would return home with the list, ever hopeful of a positive response but Sylvie’s replies were always the same; “You needn’t think I’m shelling out for that bleeding lot!” or, “They’re having bleeding laugh aren’t they, I could feed us all bloody week for what  that lot costs, tell them to get lost! Who the f**k do they think I am, bleeding Rockerfeller!”

Every week I would have to make up some excuse, “Sorry I forgot, or sorry, my mum forgot to go shopping, and sorry, I left my cookery bag at home.” Only on rare occasions when it was something simple like a rice pudding or and egg custard would Sylvie grudgingly agree,  and would I be able to pilfer the ingredients from the pantry at home.

At the first opportunity, when choosing our ‘O’ level options, I dropped the subject, with an enormous sense of relief. I used to watch the girls who continued the subject, turning up at school with their pretty little cooking baskets, ingredients weighed out in Tupperware tubs, cooking up that weeks’ dish with enormous concentration, struggling to get it right, knowing I could have done the same things easily with one hand tied behind my back.