I’m sitting at the kitchen table with my husband and kids eating spaghetti and meatballs that I cooked. It’s a favourite meal normally eaten with so much gusto that it is served with paper towells for the inevitable tomato sauce all over your face. My son’s face is already decorated in red. ‘Delicious’ he says and I burst into tears.
I am thinking of the bodgey pasta I made mum and how I will never get to cook for her again. I still feel bad that, near enough, her last meal was squished and tongue numbingly hot pasta. She said it was ‘delicious’ but she might only have been being polite. Towards the end of her life nearly everything thing was greated with ‘lovely’.
When I keaned in to give her a hug she would say ‘lovely little furball’ or ‘my lovely dove’.
In our family we commonly address each other as animals. We were often ‘doves’ when good and ‘toads’ when naughty. Toad was actually an affectionate epithet given as an acknowledgement that we were mischievous and fun. As a child I thought it was completely normal tilll I called my friends younger brother ‘toad’ and he burst into tears and ran off!
My mum earned the unique title of ‘wicked toad’ in honour of her especially mischievous nature and her unrepentant delight in people ‘gettng their comeuppance’ for behaviour she disapproved of. This was so much a thing that we would regularly give her ‘toad’ presents a key ring, a life size stone statue that she put by the nature pond ( delightfully one day she observed a real toad sitting companionably by it) a little bean bag toad that I placed on her beside table when she came to spend last Christmas with us in Austin.
Finishing supper I retreat to our new sofa. But Netflix doesnt work and the air conditioning feels artic so I bury myself under a blanket. My husband goes to take tbe dog out in the garden.
5 minutes later he cones running back in looking for a torch.
‘A giant toad just jumped in the swimming pool’ he exclaimed and ran back out with the torch. I get up to look. Sure enough spotlighted in the torchlight is a toad happily swimmingly down the pool.
I’m not religious but at that moment it cheers me to think that, if there were reincarnation, my mum has come back as her namesake ‘wicked toad’ and is naughtily enjoying a night time dip in our pool!