Sunday, January 29, 2023

Existential Examen (Day 9)

 Ah, well, now...

Just a couple of days ago, I remembered my late cousin Nina on the occasion of what would have been her 99th birthday.  I recalled how she'd helped me find a pen-pal when I was about age 10, going to her pen-pal, Brenda, in the UK.  Brenda's mother, Mabel Dumville, was a teacher, and she matched me up with a girl in one of her classes.

Time goes on...Years pass.  In the early seventies, while still in university, I travelled to the UK and met my pen-pal, Joyce, as well as Brenda, her husband Ken, and their son, Miles, who's about a week older than I.  I think Brenda would have liked Miles and I to strike up a friendship -- and we have, after a fashion -- though not in the way she might have had in mind! 😉

But Miles and I have exchanged Christmas cards for decades, and I have a collection of his family photos -- of his wife and their two daughters, mainly enjoying holidays together.

In 1992 husband and our children visited Brenda and Ken at their home -- by then, in Suffolk -- where the kids climbed the apple tree in their back garden, and we all had a lovely visit, wrapped in their warm hospitality.  Still later, after my husband died, I visited them again in Suffolk.  They took me to Constable Country, and to Aldeburgh, where a sculpture honouring Benjamin Britten is located on the shore.  The day was crowned with a delicious lunch in a nearby Inn, where Brenda instructed me in the proper way to enjoy Earl Grey tea!

Ken died a number of years ago now; since then, Brenda lived alone in their home in Suffolk.  For the last few years, she had a live-in care-giver, but Miles and his family continued to be in close touch.  I have one particularly lovely photo of them all celebrating Brenda's 95th birthday.

In 2022, Brenda turned 98 -- and suffered swiftly declining health. 

This morning I received word from Miles that she died peacefully in care at a nearby lodge in the early morning of January 25.  As I told him when I replied to his e-mail, no doubt by now she has located Ken, their daughter Jill (who died in 2009), and his grandparents -- and of course, caught up with Georgie-Nina, and my husband and parents, for she met them all over her long and special life.

Rest in peace, Brenda Dumville Holroyd; may your memory be for a blessing.  Today, I am grateful for your life, and all you gave us while you were here.

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