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|This time of year is always quite poignant for me. Growing up, it was the fortnight between my Sister Linda’s birthday (May 21) and my own, (June 5). The Whitsun School Holidays happened around then too; and if by sheer fluke the weather was un-pommy like and sunny, we used to go off on bikes, or scooters, and later on horses; if it was wet, we would play with Linda’s birthday gifts until I got mine in June. We were into Barbie, Cindy etc, and had the accompanying horses, cars and other accoutrements that our impoverished parents were persuaded to buy.|
|When she was 12, my entrepreneurial sister saved up and bought a young colt, which with great patience she broke and trained herself. She called him Astro, and he had a mischievous but loveable personality and Linda loved him very much. Sadly, for me, I grew far too tall to be able to share him, but would ride alongside on my bike. Linda remained at 5’2” and therefore kept him until she started work and no longer had the time to give him the attention he required. She replaced him with a Labrador called Ben, who lived a long and happy life well into his teens. By the time he reached his dotage, he was half blind and more deaf; however, he retained a keen sense of smell and I have humorous recollections of my Father chasing him, yelling, “Ben! Turn round, you daft old bugger” when he regularly followed his nose and headed off rapidly in the wrong direction.|
|The reason that this time of year is poignant is that my beautiful sister Linda did not reach her 45th birthday and was stolen from us after a long battle with cancer. It has taken until now to be able to voice these recollections without shedding tears; but now I recall the fun that we had and the happier memories; waking our parents up at 3am on Christmas morning singing carols (and wondering why they were not overjoyed) giggling our heads off at my Mother’s occasional inanities (“Oh Look – free range potatoes…”) galloping pell-mell across the local common when the local riding school ponies took it into their heads to stampede and many more.|
|I share these comments because it is important to realise that life is short, far from fair and at times we can feel overcome by emotions we cannot control. When things seem black it is easy to slip into negative moods which suck the joy from the air, much as J K Rowling’s describes the effect of her Dementors. At such times it is important to share with someone the good memories we have, and find in everyday one thing we can be grateful for. Look at photographs, find scents that help reminiscence, make someone else ‘know’ the person who has been lost. Use friends, relatives, counsellors. And remember that this too will pass.|