You told Anna that you thought - and dreamt - in words, not pictures. Wide-eyed, we imagined your mind as a giant Rolodex of words: shifting tiles of English and German and Swedish and more.
Words wove through our home, holding up walls (1) and knitting us together. Words filled our evenings on the sofa – Anna and I each side – as you told us of Swallows and Amazons, of Chocolate factories and Giant Peaches, of Lions and Witches and Wardrobes. Words carried us up the stairs (begging for just one more chapter) and tucked us beneath blankets of faraway lands.
You told us your stories. Of Grandma and Grandpa and Auntie Pat. Of Diggers and Scruffys (2) of innumerable incarnations, all loved just the same. You read us the stories you wrote when you were small, etched in smudgy left-hand. All ending in the same, pragmatic, reassuring phrase: “And that was the end of that.”
Words filled our hearts and our imaginations, but also our stomachs. They spilled from shelves filled with cookbooks onto our plates. We skipped home to cakes filled with cherries or drizzled with syrup. We found our special second stomach to squeeze in Summer Pudding after dinner with Grandma. We drew friends home to scoff Banoffee Pie and leave with tinfoil parcels of joy and generosity.
Words drawn from phrase books and borrowed cassettes took us on adventures. We spent our summers devouring apricots in Prague, watching bats in Brugges, feeding goats in Holland. Whatever language you spoke, you spoke it fluently – shyness overcome by learning and skill.
You chose your words more carefully than us, so that they carried more thought and more meaning. Among our noise, you could be still. Your peace drawing even the occasional rare bird to hop contentedly at your feet, unobserved by the cacophony of birdwatchers that surrounded you.(3) Drawn instead by your calm. Just as I was, counting the knots in the wood under the dining room table.
I dream in pictures, but you taught me to feel in words. To weave words that cast memories, that knit us together and tuck you in: We love you.
And that is the end of that.
2 - Digger was the family’s Dachshund and Scruffy Liz’s Teddy Bear
3 - Back in the 1980s I and others were desperately searching for Kent's first twitchable Olive- backed Pipit at Sandwich Bay and we eventually found it happily feeding a few yards from Liz who'd been atching it for ten minutes or more as she sat on a log quietly knitting