Fair hair. The blue eyes of a northern tribe. From Western Scotland, perhaps, or Northern Ireland, the islands in between, or some Jutland inlet.
A short, wiry build. Not a tall Nordic warrior. We wish!
Compact, latent energy, a good engine, busy demeanour, ready to go. This person can quietly get things done – alone or with whoever is around. She could get into a boat, help build a hut, skin a rabbit (though she might not want to), enjoy growing vegetables. She would cajole and teach her boy and girl as they collected mussels along the dark shoreline. And walk hand-in-hand with her man. She would have a laugh and a joke, quietly chat with the neighbours, speak up in a meeting if she had to.
When we meet, I see wrinkles, from smiles and worry, but not old age yet. I hope there is wisdom, there must be.
At the funeral, the minister described our grandmother as a ‘simple’ person. There was a hush, then he explained. Did you inherit that quality too? Is there only that goodness and humanity, or does the twenty-first century demand a deeper reflection, complexity?
We were never joined at the hip. But we shared a womb. You left first. I would love to know why. Because you were cleverer, stronger, readier for the world? You were Head Girl, I copied your homework and played football.
On this day, we are fifty-five, times two.
You will be at work, 216 miles south. I am at home, up here in our family homeland, tapping away – a budding writer, back after a fifty-year break. The Jennifer Pig stories never took off – they hide in their blue exercise books under my bed.
Happy Birthday, Sister, whoever you are now.
Love you forever.