In just under two weeks my niece will have her 18th birthday. I can’t believe it – where have those 18 years gone?
I remember her as a tiny baby sleeping on my sister’s chest in hospital, playing in our garden, gurgling as she had her nappy changed and sitting quite contentedly on my mother’s bed with various toys around her. I remember the first words she ever said to me – ‘Bye, bye’ – as she sat next to my mother on the sofa and I was about to go out. I remember the screams and tears as she was weaned (that was so difficult for my mother as she was the one who was usually doing the feeding). My mother looked after her 3 days a week when my sister went back to work – not easy for a 70 year old – but as ever she met the challenge full on and conquered it wonderfully. That was my mother. My mother loved her granddaughter (and grandson) deeply and was very proud of both of them. I remember my mother holding my niece’s hand when she was just a toddler and we were out visiting a stately home and was very moved by the picture. I made a silent wish that my mother would live to see my niece grow up and she did live to see her become 17. It hurts very much that she won’t be around to celebrate her 18th birthday, but I know that she will be there in spirit and the love she gave her for 17 and a half years continues to live on in my niece’s heart and will remain with her for the rest of her life.
My niece has her whole life now in front of her. She is a wonderful girl and my deepest wish – which would also have been the wish of my mother – is that her life is full and satisfying. The little baby and toddler is no more (and part of me mourns that), but the young lady is about to sprout her wings and fly and that will be just as fascinating and beautiful to see.