Two years ago yesterday I took a day trip to Ireland, for a lunch date with my Aunt Liz. Only 12 years older than me, Liz was always like my oh-so glamorous older sister. Like all my aunts and Mammy, busy busy busy, with her business interests, her mad part-share of a race-horse and above all her family, she was one among many strong fabulous women in our huge family.
The date was tinged with sadness, we all knew that Liz would be leaving us, just a matter of when, but she was still in love with life enough to get dressed up and come out for a meal at her favourite restaurant, a not an inconsiderable quantity of wine, and an afternoon of chat and much discussion of food.
It was already twilight as we left the restaurant, and I finally got up the courage to hug her and tell her what I had come to tell her, that she was my role model, the one I aspired to be, that I loved her.
Liz fought on for nearly another full year, and I saw her twice more, but she was never again as well as she had been for that Christmas lunch date, and there was never another chance to talk to her again, and so it is that at this time of year I remember her, not as ill as she actually was but as her old self, sitting at the table talking about life and food and family.
This time of year is when we miss them most, the ones who won't be here, and that is why we mustn't wait till it's too late to tell the ones who are still here what they mean to us.
Tell them now...
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