Whilst trimming my lavender in the front garden (no that isn’t a euphomism) my elderly nextdoor neighbour popped round with a little wicker basket for Maria who was kind of helping me at the time. We don’t see Nora to speak to all that often, I think that if we shared a drive or she lived on the other side of us we would see more of her but our detached houses are orientated in such a way that the properties feel barely adjoining and we don’t even get any over the fence chat opportunities when we’re in our respective gardens. Anyway, Nora also told me she had a dead pigeon in her back garden and didn’t know what to do with it.
I didn’t really know either but I offered to move it for her although I didn’t really know how to dispose of it. Nora was going to call the council and although they may have people who remove that sort of thing along with vermin I thought it unlikely that they would appear before Tuesday after the bank holiday weekend. Would the local recyling facility be able to help us to dispose of it? or would a local Vet take it from us? There I was gardening and tidying up the large expanse of bare earth in our front garden and the obvious had not dawned on me. Nora had popped home to make some phone calls when it struck me that a quick burial in our garden was the solution and I also realised this would be a good opportunity to broach the subject of death with Maria.
The bird had not been savaged by a cat and looked very peaceful (I think it might have flown into a window). So after digging a small grave we were able to show Maria the bird before it was lowered into the ground. Without going into any details that would have just confused Maria we said it had died after an accident, and was having a sleep that it would not wake up from. Maria did not ask any questions and we did not invite any. She choose a stone from our rockery to mark the grave and I placed a posy of the recently cut lavender against the stone.
This event enabled Catriona to tell Maria about the fact that her dad had also died and showed Maria the photo of him from our front room. We will be able to take Maria to his grave next time we are back in Hornby (a wedding prevented us from visiting it today) which is something that Catriona has been wanting to be able to do and more importantly to explain to Maria about the big part of her mother’s life that is missing. I’m not sure Maria is ready to understand death and generational family relationships straight away but if she remembers one or two facts it will help her piece things together and ask questions in the future.