As I settled into nursing home life, because really I had no other choice but to accept the circumstances and make the best of them, Daisy, Holly’s daughter paid me a surprise visit with a special surprise. When she knocked on the door and said, “Hello Violet, rmember me, I am Holly’s daughter, Daisy.”I remember letting out a squeal, putting my hand on my chest thinking I may have a heart attack at this minute. I jumped up and hugged her for a long time.
Daisy presented me with two orchid plants to brighten up my room and a thick red leather photo album embossed with the tree of life motto, with birds and flowers on the front. She told me that this album was done before Holly died.
She inscribed in it with gold pen calligraphy, writing how much she loved Minnie and I, the two women who saved her life. Daisy told me, “She loved you and Minnie both with a passion. She never forget the unbelievable kindness you bestowed on her at the lowest point of her life.” I knew this but it was lovely to hear it again. Inside there was also a picture that Daisy painted in water colours of Minnie and I from a photograph that her mother Holly had. The pose was of Minnie sitting and me standing with my hand on her shoulder. We were dressed in a 1920s outfits for a party we were going to. I was wearing my cultured salt water pearls that mother and papa had given me on my 21st birthday, with earrings to match. It was one of my favourite photos taken just after WWII in 1947. The small, intricate watercolour painting was stuck in in the front page of this beautiful red album which had gold embossed words on the front cover, “Special memories with love.”
Daisy was in London on a special sightseeing trip and doing business on the side as well. She decided to take a train from London to Devon just to see me.
“Violet, I didn’t want to post this and I really wanted to see you after all these years!” She said.
She stayed for around three hours knowing I was tired and told me she was staying overnight and would come and see me again before she left in the afternoon back to London. I told her she was welcome to stay with my niece Lily, Rosy’s daughter, who was left Rosy’s house after she died. I knew Lily wouldn’t mind. Daisy told me she would ring her to meet up for a chat, but she was fine where she was staying. She was a lovely woman who worked full time as an Assistant Professor and Lecturer in Botany at the University of California, close to where she lived. She sold her mother’s business after she died, as well as her business in horticulture and landscape design and bought a new house with large gardens and invested the money, as well as travelling abroad. She showed me a beautiful photo album with photos of her family, her trips to Africa, India, Thailand, and Australia where she had been doing botanical research. She also had some photos of her artwork, which was very abstract but I liked them immensely.
She did come and see me again and I gave a picture of my parents from my album, which she loved. I could see the tears welling up in her eyes as she only had one other picture.
On leaving, she gave me the longest and biggest hug and we both cried as she knew she would never see me again and I her. We had a truly sweet union and talked about lots of different things, especially our first meeting as a child with Minnie and I. She reminded me so much of her mother Holly, which set me off as she was leaving. I went to sleep early that night and even missed dinner. But, I was truly exhausted but happy at the same time.
All the nurses and residents carefully looked through and admired the album saying it was the most beautiful, creative album they had ever seen. Holly had taken special care putting in her favourite letters we had written each other over the years, a page of some of her favourite material, photos of quilts she had made, pressed flowers, things she knew I loved. The last page was a letter she wrote to me just before she died. Instead of posting it, she put it in the album.
You have given me a life suffused with love, support and friendship. I will always be eternally grateful for all that you and Minnie did for me at the lowest point of my life. You have left an imprint on my heart. I am happy and at peace knowing I have had a full life, unfailing love and support from family and friends. I feel incredibly blessed.
After all you have gone through in your life, surviving two World Wars, losing all your family, your loving partners, ignorance and prejudice, I wish you a happy life full of never ending love and joy. Remember me as I have remembered and loved you all my life.
Goodbye my darling!
My friends Josephine and Bill visited me a lot when I lived in Devon, sometimes three of four times a week, but two years before I went into a nursing home, Bill died of prostate cancer, which was very sad because he caught it late and Josephine told me that he died a cruel and painful death. As I said earlier, Minnie and I both met them in Rajasthan and had been close friends for close to fifty years.
Josephine’s daughter Julia often came to see me in the nursing home especially if Josephine was unwell and couldn’t make it, which was very moving to me. Josephine was a little younger than me and lived with her daughter Julia now. They were a very close family and I loved them dearly.
My neighbours Tom and Bridget also visited a couple of times a week so I felt incredibly lucky and blessed to have so many people to care about me, when I knew so many in the nursing home that didn’t get any visitors at all.
I think what is really interesting, too that I thought of this morning over my cup of tea, I have just as many questions at the end of my journey that I had in the beginning of my journey.