Earlier today I visited a friend of mine for a quick coffee before work. She had a gift for me which I wasn't expecting. A cushion! Not any old cushion but one that she made herself in recent days. You see this friend lost her mother in January.
Her mother was also a friend of mine. Someone I've known all of my life and someone I had the pleasure to call 'friend' for the past 20+ years. May died in January this year, on her 97th birthday. She is, was, and most likely will be, the oldest friend I'm ever likely to have.
I can call her my friend because she invited me for tea, she told me stories, she baked me bread, and she scolded me loads. Everything a true friend does.
I have many fond memories of May but my favourite is of one Easter Sunday approximately 10 years ago (maybe a little less). We all had Easter Sunday lunch together. Easter Sunday is a very special day for my family as our extended family all meet up and spend the afternoon and evening together annually. A very special, and very treasured occasion.
On this Easter Sunday prior to my annual family gathering, I had lunch with May and her family. That lunch was spent talking about Easter many years ago. Easter when May was a little girl. May told me that day all about what she and her brothers got up to on Easter Sunday and about their Easter fire and Easter egg hunts.
What struck me most that day was the fond memories May had, memories she treasured of her time as a little girl with her brothers. Her family. She instilled in me even more importance of my much loved tradition at Easter.
I am very fortunate to have gone to meet and stay with one of those brothers since that Easter Sunday. I holidayed with May's wee brother Vincent in Scotland. And the time I spent with him was spent listening to stories of he and May and their other siblings as children. The love between them all was endless and it oozed from them.
So this cushion which Annmarie gave me today, is no ordinary cushion. It's a little piece of May which I will keep and treasure forever. This cushion has a little piece of May's headscarf, her skirt and her blouse. And there's even a button from her cardigan on it. A little piece of May is with me forever. And that is something very special. Just as May was someone very special.
Some gifts really are priceless. My cushion is one such gift.
Annmarie has made a selection of these cushions for herself and her family and friends. These enable all of us to keep May with us forever. She's not just in our memories now. She's on my sofa too.