Author Topic: New Story told in instalments. Milly.  (Read 1933 times)

Offline norfolkdumpling

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Re: New Story told in instalments. Milly.
« Reply #15 on: October 30, 2022, 07:10:10 PM »
After he had taken the children to school Steve drove to the church and parked in the layby opposite. He crossed the road and went into the churchyard. Music was drifting out from the building and Steve saw from the noticeboard that there was a communion service at 9am on Mondays.
An elderly man who seemed vaguely familiar was tending a grave.
'Hello Mr. Ross. you're a bit late for the service.'
'I just came for a bit of peace and quiet.'
'To think about your aunt Milly, maybe?'
'That's right Mr- er I'm sorry I can't remember your name.'
'I'm Douglas Anstruther. She were a grand lass were Milly.'
'Did you know her well?'
'She were a great friend of my missus, Dorothy. Died a couple of years back, Dorothy did.'
'I think i remember Milly talking about her. you live on Drake Avenue, don't you? I've picked Milly up from your house.'
'Aye, that's right. Do you know I've not set foot in this church since Dorothy's funeral. I come and look after her grave and do a bit of tidying up like cos I fee close to her here,but I just can't bear to go inside and see where we used to sit together. I've got nowt agin the church, it's just so sad like and now Milly's gone as well.' Tears began to trickle down the old man's face and Steve, feeling very emotional himself put his arm around the older man's shoulders.
'I don't know as how I can see myself coming to the service here for Milly. I'll either stay out here or I'll go straight to the crematorium- not that i like that place much either.'
'Me neither but it will be a very short committal there. I'll quite understand if you prefer to be out here. We'll be happy to see you in the church hall afterwards.' The organ struck up once again and Douglas looked at his watch.
'That'll be the last hymn. I'll make myself scarce before anyone decides they want to talk to me.'
He hurried away to the far side of the churchyard where he couldn't be seen by worshippers leaving the church. Steve stayed where he was looking at the headstones. The colonel's ashes were not buried there but there was a memorial to him on his mother's headstone. Slugger was with his late wife in another graveyard. Rev. Jeremy spotted Steve.'
'Hello, are you waiting to see me?'
'No, actually I was hoping to have a few minutes in the church. It is left open, isn't it?'
'Yes, but the choir are going to be practising in a few minutes. Actually, the anthem they are going to be singing was a special favourite of your aunt's, so the organist tells me. Come inside and let me introduce you to him.'
The organist, Jim Sangster was a tall bluff Yorkshire man who gripped Steve's hand when introduced to him.
'My granddaughter, Hayley Webster has riding lessons with your wife, Mr. Ross' Thinks the world of her.'
Steve smiled. Please call me Steve. Is it ok if I stay and listen to your practice? I just need some time to sit and think about my aunt before the funeral.'
'Of course. did Rev. Carmichael conduct your marriage ceremony?'
'Yes,he did- and christened the children too.'
'Did you know he's passed away?'
'No- I'm sorry to hear that. He was always very kind to us especially when we lost Dora's uncle. We weren't regular church goers even then.'
'He's being buried near his birthplace and some of the parishioners are going but we thought it would be good to have a service to remember him here too for all the folk who can't get there. Jeremy's quite happy to do the honours. the anthem we're singing was a great favourite of Rev. Carmichael so we're having extra practices cos we like to get things reet thou knows.'
'Perhaps Dora and I will come to that service.'
'It's not till after Christmas but the date will be in the Parish magazine. I'll get my daughter, Lindsay to drop one off when she brings Hayley for her lesson. Now tek a seat and listen- you're very welcome.'
Jim took his place at the organ and an elderly lady, who Steve recognised from the days when she used to be postmistress stood in front of the choir. The music was soothing, and Steve closed his eyes picturing Milly in one of her favourite outfits- the one she always wore on Easter Sunday. Every week when she got home, she would say 'Ee it were a lovely service. As he sat there, he suddenly remembered her saying on one occasion' We had the king of love my shepherd is. It's one of my favourites. ' Steve took out his pen and the small notebook he always carried and wrote it down so he would remember to mention it to Jeremy. The choir were singing 'I know that my redeemer liveth and went over it several times before the organist and choir mistress were satisfied. The choir began leaving and as Steve still had his eyes closed no-one disturbed him. Finally,Jim left his place and walked down the aisle, Steve opened his eyes.
'Did you like that?'
'Yes, it was very soothing.'
'Your aunt believed those words thou knows. It comes from Handel's Messiah. Most of the choir will be at Milly's funeral- we'd love to sing it for her, what do you say? It'll give us a chance to practice it in front of a congregation.
'Thank you. I'm sure it's what Milly would want.'
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

Offline norfolkdumpling

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Re: New Story told in instalments. Milly.
« Reply #16 on: October 31, 2022, 07:51:32 PM »
I'll need to tell Jeremy when we see him later in the week. I think we're allowing an hour for the service to allow us to get to the crematorium on time.'
'Well Jeremy can let us know what's decided and I'll see you at the service.'
'Is it ok if I sit here for a few minutes longer?'
'Of course. The church will be open until 4 o'clock. We have to lock up then in case anyone tries to sleep in here. We don't mind them sheltering in the porch and usually leave  some things out for them to use as bedding.'
'I'll be gone long before then.' As Steve sat in the quiet, he allowed his memory full rein as he thought back over the years Milly had spent with them.A lot had happened including the split between Milly and his mother, Cathy. Although Cathy now lived in Leeds the two hadn't met recently but Steve had rung her to tell her that Milly had died. He thought it unlikely that she would attend the funeral although he had made it clear that he would arrange for her to be picked up if she did want to come. He recalled seeing Milly after his wedding to dora when her eyes had been decidedly damp as she stood beside slugger as they walked back down the aisle after the signing of the register. Then on her wedding day looking as radiant as a young bride as she and Bert took their vows. This church had become her spiritual home and it was fitting that one of the last stages in her journey would be the service here. He and Dora would visit a garden centre soon and choose a young tree to be planted in the grove of memories. Bert's ashes would be taken from their place in Milly's annexe and together with hers would be buried beneath the tree uniting them in death as they had once been in life. Steve looked at his watch and was amazed to see that it was 11.30. He thought about returning home but was drawn to the scene of the accident. As he was on his way to the car the choir mistress called to him.
'I'm just going home to have coffee. would you like to join me?' Steve shook his head but thanked her for the thought. He parked in the car park near the doctor's surgery and for several minutes sat in the car and looked out hearing once more the squeal of brakes and the scream of an onlooker. He closed his eyes and gripped the steering wheel. There was a gentle tap on the window.' Are you okay, Steve?' He opened his eyes and wound down the window. 'Hello Dr. Rees. I'm just trying to get to grips with things before the funeral.'
'I'm just going to the cafe for lunch. would it be too painful for you to join me- for a coffee at least. i'm willing to lend a listening ear if you think it would help.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

Offline norfolkdumpling

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Re: New Story told in instalments. Milly.
« Reply #17 on: November 02, 2022, 10:08:52 PM »
Actually, I'm a bit peckish. It would be good to chat if you're sure- and lunch is on me.' Steve put his money in the car park ticket machine and walked with the doctor to the cafe which was just beginning to be busy with the lunchtime trade. They found a table for two and both ordered vegetable soup and a crusty roll. 'Now Steve, how are you doing? Please drop the Dr. Rees out of the consulting room. You know my name is Megan.'
'I'm having difficulty convincing myself that I'm not partly to blame for Milly's death.'
'You mustn't blame yourself. you might as well say I'm partly to blame. you and Dora have given Milly a purpose in life, especially after she lost her husband. She loved looking after her plants, helping in the gift shop, baking for church sales and looking after the children.'
'Yes, but over the past few months she's been doing less and less.'
'She was still involved with the church and the W.I though, wasn't she?'
'Yes, and up to a few weeks ago she was still a good cook, but things started to go downhill just before we went on holiday. I should have seen the signs and not gone.'
'Steve, you and Dora work too hard. You needed a break, and the children would have been really disappointed if you'd cancelled the holiday. Mrs Seaton Carew is very capable after all she looked after her father and then her husband for several years. If she thinks you're blaming yourself she might think you're blaming her too.'
'That's daft. She knows I wouldn't do that' he said crossly.
Megan put her hand on his arm, 'I know.'
Their lunch arrived and was delicious as always. Megan said 'So, are you all prepared for the funeral?'
'Oh yes. The church hall is booked. Hazel is making sausage rolls, scones and buns with help from Jodie and the W.I. are taking care of drinks and sandwiches. We've just got one more meeting with the vicar to finalise things.'
'So it's just your mind that needs sorting to allow you closure so you can get on with your life.'
Steve mopped up the rest of his soup with his roll and then looked embarrassed. Laughing, Megan did the same.
'I went to the church today while the choir was rehearsing. It was quite relaxing and peaceful afterwards. I reckon if there'd been a confession box, I would have unburdened myself. Perhaps that's what I need- absolution. Maybe I'd better speak to the vicar.'
'Steve, did you know that I'm a local preacher in the Methodist church?'
'No and i don't know much about Methodists except they're against drink and gambling.'
Megan laughed softly. 'Attitudes have changed a bit. I like a nice glass of wine occasionally and buy raffle tickets for good causes!'
'Do you have confession?'
'Yes, but not in the way you mean. We believe there's no need for a third party like a priest. You can talk to God one to one and anywhere.
As I've said you have nothing to feel guilty about and you've talked to me which I hope has helped a bit. What I suggest is this. You and Dora and Annabelle need to get together and all three of you talk about your feelings. Then each one of you needs to get things right in your own minds. Perhaps they have already but clearly you haven't. You simply need to go somewhere quiet and pour out your heart to God asking for His peace.'
'I'm not sure I believe anyone will be listening.'
'Well, he believes in you. The most important thing is to get everything off your chest. You can shout, weep or even swear- he's heard it all before and he won't be shocked. The last stage for you, I believe is to go to the service on Sunday evening. In our church we often find that relatives come to a service just before or just after a funeral.
'I've never felt the need before when I've lost someone.'
'Well, it's up to you of course. If you do decide to go then obviously tell Dora and let her make up her own mind. I'm sorry, it's nearly time for afternoon surgery I'd better go.'
'Have you not got time for coffee? I'm sorry to have taken up so much of your time.'
'I'll have coffee at my desk and if I've helped you at all it's been time well spent. you stay and have a coffee and maybe a slice of that wicked looking cheesecake.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

Offline norfolkdumpling

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Re: New Story told in instalments. Milly.
« Reply #18 on: November 03, 2022, 10:00:15 PM »
Steve stood up when Megan did and shook her hand. 'Thanks, Megan. you've been great.' Steve took her advice and had a coffee and a slice of blackcurrant cheesecake. Conscious that it was one of Dora's favourites he bought an extra slice and asked them to put it in the fridge for him to pick up later before he picked the children up from school. He phoned Dora and told her he would stay around the village until school came out. He remembered that a new garden centre had recently opened on the outskirts of the village and decided to visit to see what kind of range they had.
It was smaller than the one they usually visited but they had a comprehensive selection and he felt sure that they would be able to find something suitable here to plant in Milly's memory. There were still some plants in her greenhouses, and he was uncertain whether they would be selling plants in their shop in the future, but Adam had shown an interest and had helped Milly in the past. Evie too had tried her hand at raising plants.
The college no longer sent students to the Ponderossa as they had changed to nature of their courses. The nursery did have a small coffee shop and after purchasing a poinsettia for Dora and a white rose bush to plant outside Colonel G's Steve sat down to enjoy another cup before going back to pick up the cheesecake. He would discuss the matter of plant sales with Dora because he had noticed that the prices here for the type of plants which they sold were considerably higher. When he went back to the cafe, they still had some cream cakes left so he also bought a selection for afternoon tea and jam doughnuts for the children. He decided to ask Annabelle in for a chat. Teri was waiting for Rikki outside the school gates and asked Steve how he was feeling. 'I'll be glad when the funeral is over but otherwise, I'm getting there.'
'I'll be working unfortunately; I did try and get some time off but someone else is on holiday. I'll pick the children up for you if you like.'
'They are actually coming to the funeral but not the crematorium. I was going to ask Ron to look after them while we're away.'
'He will of course and bring them back to ours when they've had enough. They can have tea and you can pick them up when you're ready'
'Thanks, that will give us a chance to help with the clearing up.'
Rikki came out first with her friend Lucy who was going to have tea with them. with a cheery wave they left. Pru came running out and flung herself into Steve's arms. 'I've had a horrid day daddy.' she said, tears running down her face.
'Never mind, pumpkin' he said hugging her close. 'I've got a jam doughnut for you when we get home. ' Jeff arrived as he said this. 'Me too, dad?' 'Of course.'
'I've some English homework and I might need some help.' Steve stopped off at the pony centre and invited Annabelle, who was doing some paperwork, to join them for afternoon tea. The first thing he did when they got home, and the children had changed out of their uniforms, was to sit Pru down and find out what had gone wrong with her da.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

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Re: New Story told in instalments. Milly.
« Reply #19 on: November 04, 2022, 10:14:39 PM »
wrong with her day!
Fortified by the doughnut and a glass of milk she shrugged her shoulders and said that it was nothing much, but Steve sensed that she was keeping something back because Jeff was in the room. When he had homework, he was encouraged to do it as soon as possible so Steve said
'What do you need help with Jeff?
'English. I need to write a poem.'
'Mum is probably the best person then. Both of you go and wash your sticky hands and faces because Auntie Annabelle is coming soon, and you need to occupy yourselves while we have a talk so why don't you see if you can make a start Jeff and mum will catch up with you later.'
Pru pouted. 'I couldn't go to Rikki's today because she had another friend going round for tea.'
Steve wondered if that was part of the reason why Pru was in a mood earlier. 'How about you go round to see if Lily wants to play?'
'Lily's a baby!'
'That's not very nice Pru.'
Jeff had washed his hands and now hovered with his English book. Dora, who had been at Follyfoot arrived back just then. Have a chat to mum about your homework Jeff while I take Pru and Benny outside for a bit before auntie Annabelle arrives.'
Dora had picked up the silent appeal in Steve's eyes. 'What is it, Jeff?'
'We have to write a poem about gardens.'
'That shouldn't be too hard because you often used to help auntie Milly with our gardens, didn't you? How many lines does it need to have?'
'At least 10 but no more than 16.'
'Well first just write down some rough ideas and we'll talk about it later if you're stuck.
Steve picked up Benny's ball and rubber ring and fixed his lead on. Pru skipped ahead of them down to the lakeside play area. Steve sat down on the bench and released Benny. Pru threw his toys for him and for several minutes he happily went to fetch them and returned for more. Then finally he flopped down onto the floor. Steve reattached his lead and turned to Pru. 'Do you want to tell me what happened today?'
'I got told off because I was talking to Jessica during register.' Steve knew his daughter was a bit of a chatterbox, so this didn't surprise him.
'I got my name put on the board, but Jessica didn't, so I told Miss Foster I didn't think it was fair, so I had to stay in at playtime and go and stand in the hall with all the naughty children. Mrs Webster came out of her office and asked us all what we had done wrong, and we got a right telling off- but dad they were much worser that what I was.' Steve winced at her grammar but didn't comment, 'I wish I'd taken a packed lunch today because school dinner was yukky. It was stew and the meat was all fatty, so I only ate the vegetables.' Steve hid a smile memory of Slugger's offering coming straight into his mind. 'The dinner ladies were really cross with me and I was really glad to go out and play especially as I hadn't been allowed out at break time. Jessica was playing catch with Sophie, Lee and Michael. Those boys are rough, so I didn't want to play with them. I'd got my skipping rope and I called for Jess to come and play with me, but she wouldn't so I told her I wasn't her friend anymore and stuck my tongue out at her. The lunch supervisor told me off and made me stand with her for ages. when she let me go, Rikki came over and skipped with me but there wasn't much of playtime left. When we were lining up to go back inside, I saw the supervisor talking to Miss Foster so I knew I was probably going to get into more trouble. Jessica came and stood near me and as we got to the door, I pushed her, and she pushed me back, so I hit her. Miss Foster pulled me out of the line and kept me with her till everyone else had gone in, then she told me I would be in the hall again for the afternoon break. Mrs. Webster said I'd been a really naughty girl and if I didn't behave myself for the rest of the term, she'd be asking you and mum to go in and see her.'
'Oh Pru, you certainly did have a bad day but at least you've told me about it. I'm not going to tell you off or anything because I think you've been punished enough at school then worried yourself since in case mum and I punished you as well. We'll have to start walking back now because it's nearly time for auntie Annabelle to arrive. Later on, we'll have another talk to see what we can do to put things right with Jessica and your teachers. 'I really am sorry dad; I think I got out of bed the wrong side this morning.'
Steve gave her a hug and she skipped off. Steve wondered if Milly's death had affected Pru more deeply than they had thought.

norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

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Re: New Story told in instalments. Milly.
« Reply #20 on: November 05, 2022, 03:20:47 PM »
Feeling much better, Pru went to play in her room. Annabelle had arrived. Jeff had gone to work on his poem and Dora had the kettle on and the plate of cakes on the table. Steve shared with them some of the conversation he had had with Dr. Rees. 'The most important thing is that we all know that none of us is to blame for Milly's death. There is no way we could know what was going on in her mind and it could easily have been a spur of the moment decision. They talked things through each of them airing their innermost feelings and shedding a few tears. Afterwards they all said they felt much better and able to face the funeral and treat it as a celebration of Milly's life.
'Have you decided what will happen to the annexe now?' asked Annabelle.
'Not really.' said Steve.
'You won't be offering it to your mother?'
'Definitely not and she wouldn't dream of taking it if we did. Thinks this place is the middle of nowhere!'
'Would you consider renting it to me? Since George died and Margaret got her own bungalow, I feel I'm ready for a change. I definitely need to downsize.'
'Don't you think it would be a bit small for you?'
'Having shared it with Milly for a couple of weeks I'm sure I'd be fine.'
'Would Margaret not like you to share her bungalow?'
'We both need our own space and it's not that big.'
'We'll talk it over and let you know. It would certainly be handy having you close.'
'I'd love to help out with the children as Milly did. It's my one big regret in life that we were not blessed with children. I have no nieces or nephews either. It would be good to be around youngsters. That's one of the things I like about working at the Ponderossa.'
'After the funeral will you help us to sort through Milly's things. We have a copy of her will.'
'Of course. Now I must be off. I'm going to see Margaret tonight.'
After she'd gone Steve sniffed. 'Something smells good. '
'It's Milly's chicken casserole recipe. I don't know whether the children will eat much after having a cooked lunch at school.'
Steve laughed. 'Apparently it was yukky stew. By the sound of Pru's description it was like one of Sluggers worst offerings!'
He then told her about Pru's day. 'I'll take her in tomorrow and try to help her sort things out.'
'Do you think she was scared that we might punish her too?'
'Probably but I just don't have the heart. she was really upset when she came out of school. I wonder if her uncharacteristic behaviour has anything to do with losing Milly.'
'Perhaps but I'm glad she told you.'
'Me too. How's Jeff getting on with the poem?'
'He's had some good ideas. He actually wants to mention Milly in it because she played such a big part in teaching him about plants and gardens.'
Pru came out of her room to see if Annabelle had gone and went over to Dora for a cuddle.
'Did daddy tell you I've been naughty today?'
'Yes, he did. It's not like you Pru but you need to forget about it now until tomorrow then we'll see what can be done to put things right.'
Tears fell down Pru's cheeks and Dora hugged her close.
'I miss auntie. I've missed not being able to talk to her about things. I didn't mean to fall out with Jess, I am so sorry about what I
 did.'
'Well, you've got a lot of apologising to do poppet, but I'm sure it will be okay when everyone sees you're really sorry'
'I hope everyone will make a lowance for me.'
'I'm sure they will sweetheart. Now go and tell Jeff that food's nearly ready.'
Pru knocked on Jeff's door and went in. He knew something of the day's happenings. Brother and sister were very close.
'You ok now Pru?'
'Yes I am and mum say's tea's nearly ready.'
'Good I'm starving!'
'That stew at dinnertime was yukky wasn't it?'
'Horrible!'
They both had second helpings of the casserole and afterwards had strawberry ice cream. Dora ate the cheesecake Steve had bought her and he contented himself with cheese and biscuits.
'Did you finish your poem Jeff' asked Dora.
'Yes thanks.'
'Will you read it to us later?' said Steve.
'Okay.'
'Why don't you two have a game of dominoes while we clear up, then we can play in teams.'
'I want to be in your team daddy. Mummy's not very good.'
'No I want to be in Dad's team' said Jeff. 'Boys against girls.'
'Whoever wins your game can choose' said Dora.
When she and Steve sat down to drink their coffee the children had won one game each and Jeff won the decider.
'It's not fair' said Pru. 'He's older than me.'
'Tell you what,' said Steve. 'Let's make it the best of three again. First game Pru plays with mummy, second game she plays with me. If we're level after two games we toss a coin to see who chooses to play with who, winner of the last game calls.'
Pru was satisfied with this but Jeff still ran out the overall winner.
'How about a game of 'Snap' before bedtime' said Jeff knowing that Pru had a good chance of winning. He didn't ever just let her win, however. again, they played the best of 3 and Pru won 2-1. After the children were asleep Steve did something he had not done since Milly's death and which up till then he had always done every night. He sat down in the big comfy armchair and patted his knee which was an invitation for Dora to sit on his lap. Smiling, she did so.'
'Today has really helped me Dora, but I did miss you.'
They shared a loving kiss. 'I think I'd quite like to go to evensong on Sunday' he said.
'It'll be Advent Sunday.'
'I thought that was the first Sunday in December.'
'Not always. It's sometimes the last Sunday in November, 4 Sundays before Christmas day.'
'It'll be a sad one again this year.' said Steve.
'We'll manage, we always do. The children will help.' said Dora.  Then said 'Jeff asked if he could come to the funeral. I said we'd think about it. I think he could handle it but I'm not sure about Pru. Perhaps we should sit down as a family and talk things through.'
'I'm sure that's the best way darling- what do you think about coming to the service with me on Sunday?'
'I dunno. I might get upset and make a show of myself. It's okay at a funeral but Advent is supposed to be a positive thing, looking forward to the second coming of Jesus, not just the Christmas festivities. I'll see how I feel. I have some lessons on Sunday afternoon.'
'Ok, but I think I'll go anyway.'

norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

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Re: New Story told in instalments. Milly.
« Reply #21 on: November 06, 2022, 10:26:51 PM »
The next day both Dora and Steve accompanied Pru to school. Pru was reluctant to go but Steve assured her that they would support her and give any help they could, but she would have to do the apologising herself. Steve parked in the nearby car park as dropping off children outside the school gates or parking in the space in the road leading up to it was discouraged as being dangerous. Jeff ran on ahead as there were no roads to cross. When they reached the school gates, they saw Jessica and her mum just ahead of them. Steve suspected that Jeff might have said something because Jess stopped and turned round. Steve gave Pru an encouraging smile and nudged her forward. Pru hesitated but saw that Jess was smiling at her, so she smiled too and started forward with her arms outstretched. When they met the girls hugged each other and Pru said I'm sorry Jess. 'I didn't want you to get into so much trouble.' Jess said taking Pru's hand as they walked towards the school building.
'Hi Dora. said Jess's mum Amy. We don't often see you here.'
'Pru's a bit of a daddy's girl but after what happened yesterday, we thought it best if we both came to support her.'
'You'll have to come round for coffee after school one day and the girls can play.'
'It's a bit awkward because of Jeff but if he's arranged to go to a friend's house, we can probably manage it
Normally you can both come to ours any time, but we'll need to leave it until after Steve's aunt's funeral on Thursday.'
When the girls had left their coats in the cloakroom where Miss Foster was standing by the door as she always did in case any parents wanted to see her. Steve had caught the girls up and Dora and Amy arrived shortly afterwards. Amy still had Jess's bag. Pru had been told she must apologise to Miss Foster and Mrs. Webster but she hesitated at the classroom door. 
'Did you wish to speak to me Pru?' asked the teacher as Amy handed over the bag and left saying she had a dental appointment. Dora and Steve stood nearby as Pru said 'Please Miss Foster I'm very sorry that I was so naughty yesterday.'
'Pru and I are friends again now and some of it was my fault.' said Jess.
'I'm glad you girls have made up and thank you Pru for apologising so nicely. Let's put yesterday behind us and make a fresh start today.'
'Please may I go and see Mrs. Webster?' asked Pru.
'Yes, you may but Jess doesn't need to go so off you go inside, Jess.' She smiled as she saw Dora and Steve and went over to speak to them.
'I'm sure Pru will be fine now. She's usually so well behaved apart from being a chatterbox. I think she just had a bad day.'
Steve explained about his aunt's death. 'I should have told you. I thought Pru was handling things well but what happened yesterday seems to indicate she isn't. The funeral is being held on Thursday and Pru and Jeff both want to come to the church so we're going to see Mrs. Webster about them having the day off. We're not planning on taking them to the crematorium.'
'It's probably a good idea for them to get closure but I agree that the crematorium is not wise. Pru has such a vivid imagination. Now please excuse me, I must get to my class.'
Mrs. Webster asked them to fill in a form and said that she would let Jeff's teacher, Mr. Collier know. 'If you feel that either or both children are too upset to come to school on Friday we'll understand. I'll add a note to the form. I'd rather have it that way than risk a repeat of what happened yesterday.'
Dora spoke for the first time. 'Thanks, but we would like things to get back to normal as soon as possible.'
Mrs. Webster got to her feet and shook hands with them both wishing them well. 'I'm sure you were behind Pru coming to apologise to me this morning. It can't have been easy for her. Thank you for that.'
'It's the least we could do,' said Steve.
The head teacher wished that all parents could be as considerate to the school staff as the Rosses.
 


norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

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Re: New Story told in instalments. Milly.
« Reply #22 on: November 07, 2022, 11:12:31 PM »
All through the week Dora was thinking about whether or not she should go to Evensong with Steve on Sunday. He had asked her just once and then left the decision to her. On Sunday afternoon Dora had lessons to give and took Jeff and Pru to the pony centre with her. Jodie loved spending time with them and asked whether they would like to stay to tea. She and Grant had a Labrador bitch which had recently given birth to four pups and the children never tired of watching them or playing with them now that their mother allowed it. Dora's last lesson ended at 5pm. She phoned Coppers Rest but there was no answer, so she decided to have a shower at the pony centre. Afterwards Jodie gave her a cup of tea and a slice of cake. Steve left home at 6 o'clock and Dora got home a few minutes later stopping only to change out of her riding gear she followed Steve. He left it until most of the congregation had entered then went in and accepted a hymn book and prayer book. The choir processed from the back and several of them smiled at him. Jeremy followed them and stopped to press Steve's hand. The organist switched from playing the voluntary to the first hymn which Steve did not recognise. The tune sounded quite stirring. Someone slipped into the pew beside him- Dora who immediately began to join in with 'Hills of the North rejoice, river and mountain spring.' By the last verse Steve managed to join in singing softly. When they sat down Dora took his hand in hers and there it remained for the rest of the service. They shared the hymn and prayer books. Dora easily found the right page and pointed out where they were. The choir sang an anthem about the angel Gabriel and Jeremy's address talked about waiting for something to happen. He was referring to Christmas and the second coming of Jesus but what he said struck a chord with Steve as he was waiting to say his farewells to Milly. The prayer included some for those who mourned, and Milly's family were mentioned. Dora squeezed Steve hand gently and he did the same to her. During the last hymn they both remained seated and dabbed at their eyes composing themselves before exiting the church before the choir processed back through the church. Jeremy went outside and shook hands with them saying he would call round the next day to talk about final details for the service. They thanked him and excused themselves before the congregation came out. Walking hand in hand back to their cars Steve thanked her for coming and they shared a kiss.
'The children are with Jodie. Do you want to pick them up or shall I do it?'
'I'll go. you go home and put the kettle on. Take care and I'll see you soon.' said Steve.
'Look what auntie Jodie's given us' said Pru as they both held up Advent calendars with a chocolate behind each door. Pru's picture was of the stable with the doors set in the roof and Jeff's was the shepherds on the hillside with the doors in the sky.
'You don't start opening them till Tuesday and only one a day. you open the last one on Christmas Eve.' said Jodie.
Because the children were relaxed, and happy Steve thought it might be a good time to talk about Milly's funeral. The Advent calendars were hung up in their bedrooms out of Benny's way. Jodie had sent scones; sausage rolls and cake for Dora and Steve to have for their tea. The children said they were still hungry so shared in the meal. Benny sat hopefully looking on as he had a weakness for sausage rolls and usually got a crumb or ten from the children. Steve had a quick chat with Dora while the children washed their hands and they agreed to have a talk about Thursday.
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Re: New Story told in instalments. Milly.
« Reply #23 on: November 08, 2022, 10:27:12 PM »
Jeff, you said you would like to come to the funeral. Have you thought any more about it?'
'Can you tell us what happens dad? Steve gave brief details of what happened at the church and the crematorium'
'I think I'd like to go to the church. I'm not sure about the other place.'
'That's fine, we'll make sure someone looks after you till we get back. After we've had something to eat and drink and said 'Hello' to some of the people Milly knew Uncle Ron is going to take you back to his place while we help tidy up and say goodbye to the people who will be helping. Now Pru, you heard what I said to Jeff and now we need to know what you want to do. It will mean having the day off school.'
Pru put her head on one side and thought for a minute or two. 'I think I would like to come to the church.'
'Well, you need to know that a lot of people, including mummy and daddy are going to be very sad.'
'I expect mummy will cry. she always does when she's sad' said Jeff matter of factly.'
Pru gave a big yawn. 'Bath time for you young lady.' said Steve.
'I need mummy to bath me now that I'm a big girl' she said in imitation of Jeff who now insisted that only Steve should be in the bathroom with him. Steve ruffled her hair. 'Okay but it will make Jeff a bit late for his to allow you some time to play'
'Can I use your bath?' said Jeff.
'It takes too long to fill.'
'I could use the shower.'
'Mmmn I suppose so'
'It's not fair. I want to use your room too' said Pru.
'Another night you can- and this is not going to happen every night' said Steve. 'Maybe if you both started to use the bathroom shower it would make it quicker.'
'I don't mind,' said Jeff. I'm too old to play in the bath now anyway.'
'Perhaps I could have a bath sometimes when it's weekends or holidays' said Pru.
'Well have a bath tonight then we'll see about what happens in the future.
Jeff soon finished in the shower. He was capable of reading his own bedtime stories but sometimes liked to listen when Steve read to Pru provided the story was not too babyish. At present Steve was reading her 'The Magician's nephew.' The Narnia stories were a great favourite with Jeff so he usually sat on the end of Pru's bed to listen. Dora said it was one of her favourite series too so they would all visit that magical land together. Steve normally read one chapter a night. It was getting towards the exciting part where Narnia was created and tonight Jeff begged for one more chapter. 'I'd better not or you'll want one more after that!'
'I promise I won't' said Jeff and Pru nodded.
'Okay then but after that it's lights out for both of you.' Pru's eyes were already closing when Steve read 'Narnia, Narnia awake.'
After both children had settled down Dora and Steve relaxed over mugs of hot chocolate. Dora said 'It was kind of Jodie to buy the children Advent calendars. I always had one when i was growing up but there were no chocolates behind the doors just pictures from the nativity story and other Christmassy things. I kept meaning to buy them but never got round to it.'
'Now they'll expect one every year- with chocolates of course' said Steve. 'Milly always bought an Advent candle and she had ordered one for this year, so Jeremy said, and I picked it up while I was at church the other day. I thought we could light it every evening in Advent and that way we can still feel that Milly is a part of our Christmas.'
'Oh Steve, that's lovely' said Dora as tears began to fall. He took her into his arms and hugged her his own eyes decidedly moist.
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Re: New Story told in instalments. Milly.
« Reply #24 on: November 09, 2022, 10:06:03 PM »
The next afternoon Steve had an appointment with the accountant and the children had been told that Dora would pick them up. Miss Foster stood at the door making sure that no child left without their parent or carer. When she saw Dora, she smiled. 'Pru's been really good today.' she said and that made Pru smile too.
'Mum, Jeff's been invited to Michael's for tea. He's going to wait at the gate for you to make sure it's okay for him to go.'
Jess and Amy were nearby, and Amy said 'Why don't you come round for coffee Dora. The girls can play for a bit but I'm afraid Pru can't stay for tea because it's Andrew's mum's birthday and we're going there as soon as he gets home from work.
'That's ok we can't stay too long, or Steve will wonder where we are.' Having given Jeff her permission and checking with Michael's mum about arrangements for getting him home she drove to the bungalow where Amy and her family lived which was quite close to Ron and Teri's place.
Over coffee she talked to Amy about the funeral and how she hoped that they were doing the right thing letting the children attend.
'It will probably help you two as well as you will have them to think about.'
'Steve's saying a few words. I hope he manages to get through it. Usually, he's the strong one while I'm in floods of tears but i have the feeling that this time I will have to be the shoulder to lean on.
'You'll get through it, Dora. If Pru wants to come round after school on Friday, she'll be welcome.'
'Thanks, we'll see how we go. We want to get things back to normal as soon as possible with Christmas just around the corner.
When Dora got home Steve told her that Jeremy had been in touch to say he would need to come on Tuesday as something important had come up that he needed to deal with that evening. Michael's dad brought Jeff home and they could tell he was bursting to tell them something. He flung off his outdoor clothes , began to rummage through his school bag and pulled out his English book. He opened it and thrust it at Dora who scanned the page with interest seeing Jeff's garden poem and the comments the teacher had made.
'Well done, Jeff! 'She said passing the book to Steve who felt a wave of emotion sweep over him as he read the lines about Milly.
'You know Jeff I am saying a few words about Milly at the funeral on Thursday and with your permission I'd like to include the lines you've written about her.'
'Of course, you can, dad.'
Pru asked to see the poem. she didn't usually like poetry much because some had long words which were hard to understand but this one was different, and she clapped her hands. 'I like that.' she said and then went quiet as she always did when she was thinking about something.'
'Dad- when you talk about auntie, can you say something from me?'
'Of course, sweetheart. Just tell me what you want me to say.'
'I haven't thought yet, but I will.' Steve read her favourite story from 'Up the Faraway Tree because she said she didn't want Narnia tonight.
Jeff didn't join them as he thought the book was too babyish. Later when both the children were asleep, he told Dora what Pru had said.
'If there's anything particular you'd like me to say just let me know.' Dora nodded. They sat and talked for a while about the part that Milly had played in the care of Pru and Jeff and the development of the business. 'There's such a lot I could say. I'll have to work on it before Jeremy gets here tomorrow then you can check that it reads ok and there are no huge grammar gaffs.'
'What does that matter, love? It will come from your heart, it's not a formal speech after all.' Steve lay awake long after Dora had gone to sleep
going over and over in his mind things about Milly. He needed to get this right.












/
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Re: New Story told in instalments. Milly.
« Reply #25 on: November 11, 2022, 10:08:02 PM »
On Tuesday after school the children opened day 1 of their Advent Calendars and declared the chocolates delicious. Behind the door Pru found a donkey and Jeff a sheep. At teatime Steve put the Advent candle on the table and explained that he would light it and let it burn the first section then blow it out. 'Can we put the lights out? ' asked Pru.
'Just for a little while. We'll see if it gives us enough light to eat by.' said Dora
'Candlelight is sooo romantic.' said Pru. Jeff burst out laughing and Dora and Steve smiled. 'She's quite right' said Steve winking at Dora.
'Actually, it's quite restful too' said Dora. We can see to eat can't we? Everyone agreed. 'Can we do this every night?' begged Pru.
'Well there's a lot we have to do but we can certainly try while we're having our tea.' said Steve. 'It would be a bit dangerous if Benny's on the prowl.' Later, before the children's bedtime Jeremy called to discuss final details for the funeral. After he had been told that the children would be attending the funeral, he noticed the Advent candle on the table. 'You know we have one like this in the church which someone has to light every day. It would be good if we could do that during Milly's funeral. He then asked Pru if she would like to carry the church Advent candle into the service. Jeff could carry its holder, Pru could put it in and under his supervision Jeff could light it with a taper Jeremy would give him. After the service they could blow it out together. 'Would you like to do that?' he asked. Both children nodded enthusiastically and Dora and Steve thought it a good way for them to feel involved in the service. 'Have you got a copy of what you'd like to say, Steve?' He was handed a typed sheet. It might not be exactly that but that's the gist of it. It might be a bit short, but I don't think I can manage anymore.'
'It's fine and leaves me a chance to add a bit about her involvement with the church and the W.I. Do you have another copy because it's a good idea if I have one in case I need to take over.'
'You can have that one. I have a carbon copy.' Jeremy declined the offer of a cup of tea saying that he had another call to make before he could go home to his own meal. 'I'll see you all on Thursday and I'll be praying for you in the meantime.
Steve woke early on Thursday morning. Dora was still asleep and so as not to wake her he had a bath in the small bathroom. He was not doing any chores with the horses today so after he was dry, he put on his old dressing gown and sat down with a cup of tea and his copy of the eulogy he was to give for Milly. He bit his lip but could not stop a tear or two from falling. Remembering how strong Milly had been at Bert's funeral he resolved to be strong too at least until everything was over today, after that- well he'd wait and see. Dora woke up and saw that Steve's side of the bed was empty. She put on her dressing gown and went through to the lounge. Steve smiled at her. 'Morning sweetheart. I've had my bath so our bathroom's free. The kettle's hot if you want a drink I'm going to get dressed and then get things ready for breakfast. Dora went over to kiss him and felt the wetness on his face. 'You ok,darling?'.'I'm fine now.; he said drawing her into his arms and hugging her tight.
'I think I'll pass on the tea and have a shower.' she said. Steve put on his light grey trousers and wondered what shirt and tie to wear. He decided to wait and see what Dora was wearing. Last night, out of the blue, Pru asked if she had to wear something black because someone at school had told her that's what you did at funerals. Dora told her that after attending a friend's funeral where everyone had worn black Milly had said she wanted everyone to wear what they liked when it was time for her funeral but preferably something colourful.
'Can I wear my fairy dress then?' asked Pru.
'Well, perhaps not that one!' said Dora.
'I don't see why not.' said Steve. 'After all, Milly made it for her- perhaps not the wings though!'
Jeff opted for his dark blue denim jeans and a jumper with a racing car on it which Milly's clever fingers had made for him last Christmas. It had been a bit big for him then but now was a perfect fit. The clothes had all been checked to make sure they were clean, and the shoes polished,
When Dora emerged from the bedroom, she was wearing her plum-coloured trouser suit. Steve had a tie which matched this and with it decided to wear his newest white shirt. Leaving the tie off for the moment he rolled up the sleeves and put a sweater on over the shirt to keep it clean while they had breakfast. Dora covered her outfit with a nylon overall she normally wore when helping out at colonel G's. 'I'll go and make a start on the porridge' she said while Steve went to wake the children. Pru was sitting on the bed in her pyjamas.
'Is it time to get dressed yet?'
'No, just put your dressing gown on till after breakfast.
'What time is the service?'
'Eleven o'clock but we'll be leaving about 10.30 because we have to follow the hearse.'
'What's a hearse?'
'The special car which takes people to their funeral' said Steve.
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Re: New Story told in instalments. Milly.
« Reply #26 on: November 12, 2022, 05:26:37 PM »
Just as they were finishing breakfast the telephone rang, it was Cathy, Steves mother.
'What time are you picking me up today?'
'You didn't tell me you were coming!'
'Of course I wouldn't miss my own sister's funeral now would I?'
'Well no-one here can possibly pick you up. There isn't time. You'll have to get a taxi straight to the church.'
'But I don't have that kind of money. It'll cost the earth from here!'
'I'll get someone to wait for you outside and pay the fare. Now ring off and get it organised!'
Ron and Teri lived closest to the church and Ron was home when Steve rang and explained the situation.
'I'll get someone from here to come early and give you the money Ron because it won't be cheap.'
'Nah don't worry. I got me Christmas club money yesterday and I haven't touched it so you can pay me back any time today.'
'Lucky I've got some money in the safe from selling 'Jupiter' said Steve to Dora when he put the phone down. He put what he hoped would be enough into his wallet and Dora said 'You need to get that jumper off and put your tie and cuff links on.'
Steve tried. 'Put these darn things on for me love. I'm all fingers and thumbs.'
'Calm down, Steve. Everything's going to be fine.'
At last, it was time to go. The hearse pulled up outside the bungalow. Eddie had been looking out for it and had parked his car at Follyfoot. He quickly walked there, and Jodie, Hazel and Annabelle got in. Steve settled his family into their own car which they were using instead of having a second funeral car to make it more familiar to the children. Pru waved to Eddie as his car pulled in behind them.
'Why are we going so slowly?' she asked.
It's tradition that your last journey on earth should be a slow one.' said Dora. Tony and Ellie were not going to attend the funeral and neither was Grant, someone had to look after the animals. Adam and Evie were keeping an eye on the shop and cafe although of course everything was closed for the day as a mark of respect. Ron was still outside the church when they arrived. 'No sign yet.' he said, and Steve handed over some notes. Hazel, Jodie and Annabelle walked quickly to the church hall where they deposited their trays of food then joined the back of the small procession making it's way down the church path. Jodie took Pru's hand and Annabelle took Jeff's. Dora and Steve were immediately behind the coffin their heads bowed and they were holding hands. The church felt warm and welcoming. Pru and Jeff were handed the candle and holder by the verger and took their place behind their parents with Jodie an Annabelle close behind. the ladies of the W.I had put simple vases of flowers on the altar and the table where the Advent candle was to be placed beside the open Bible. A large Christmas tree, as yet undecorated, stood near the organ. After saying the opening sentences of the funeral service Jeremy took his place behind the table where a microphone had been set up. He was using this instead of going into the pulpit. Jeff put the candle holder in its place and Pru carefully put the candle in it. Jeremy checked that it was stable before handing Jeff the lighted taper with which he lit the candle. Both children went to sit with their parents with Jodie, Annabelle Hazel and Eddie immediately behind so they could support the family. Pru climbed onto Steve's lap. Jeremy welcomed everyone to the service and explained the significance of the candle. As he announced the hymn 'Praise my soul the king of heaven.' there was a disturbance at the back of the church and with a sinking feeling Steve turned round to see Cathy, dressed from head to foot in black weaving her way down the aisle unsteady in impossibly high heels. Ron had paid the taxi driver and caught her up. He ushered her into a vaccant seat knowing that Steve would not want her sitting near the front. He caught the whiff of alcohol on her breath.



.
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Re: New Story told in instalments. Milly.
« Reply #27 on: November 13, 2022, 04:21:42 PM »
Steve tried to concentrate on the hymn, but his thoughts kept straying to his mother and what she might do. He knew that after some short prayers and a reading from the president of the W.I. it would be his turn to speak. Seeing the anxious look on his face Dora took his hand in hers and squeezed it gently. He returned the favour and when they sat down for the prayers he kept hold of her hand and rubbed his thumb gently across her palm drawing strength from her. When Jeremy introduced him, he sat Pru on Dora's lap ruffled Jeff's hair and locked eyes with Dora briefly then took the typed sheet of notes from his pocket. Dora knew that they mentioned the absence of Cathy in their lives and wondered how he could get round it. She closed her eyes in prayer then opened them and focussed her attention on the man she loved with all her heart sending him silent messages of love and support. with one rm she held Pru close ane with the other drew Jeff further into her side. Afterwards she didn't remember how he did it but Steve managed to reorder his tribute to Milly without mentioning Cathy. towards the end he said he had a few words to say from Dora and the children. I've already said what a help Milly was to us when the children were very young. Dora is grateful that Milly was always there for her when she needed to talk to someone other than me. time to listen was never something she seemed to be short of. Pru remembers that Milly always smelt of roses or lavender. she used to like sharing a cuddle if she felt a bit poorly. The smell cheered her up and made her feel better. Jeff was asked to write a poem about gardens for his English homework. The first prt was about gardens in general but it ended like this-
Our garden brings pleasure with flowers of bright hues
If you asked for my favourite, I just couldn't choose.
But as I see their beauty again and again
I'll remember with thanks my aunt, Milly Lane
Who taught me her skills as we spent many hours
Planting and watering and tending the flowers.
As we cared for them, so she cared for me
Her love and her kindness were lovely to see.
Advice gladly given- here Steve's voice began to break up, so Jeff went and stood beside him and took over
always there for me, each time when I garden, she'll be in my memory- Steve had regained his composure and pointed to the last line whispering 'together' they ended
'We'll always love you, dear aunty Milly.
Father and son hugged and returned to their seats. Dora dabbed at her eyes with her hanky and Cathy blew her nose loudly.
There was hardly a dry eye in the place. Even Jeremy was visibly moved as he announced the choir item 'I know that my redeemer liveth.'
Pru climbed back on to Steve's lap and he hugged her close. Dora gave Jeff a hug and whispered 'Well done'
The gentle music of the anthem had a soothing effect and Steve felt calmer. After it had finished, Jeremy said, Milly really believed those words. You have already heard many kind things about her, and I would just like to add that she was a much-valued member of the congregation. She loved listening to the choir and was a former president of the W.I. I haven't known her for very long but like many others I will miss her quiet presence. We will now have some prayers but the actual committal will be done at the crematorium. If you do not wish to go please wait in the church hall until the family and close friends return'
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Re: New Story told in instalments. Milly.
« Reply #28 on: November 13, 2022, 05:25:16 PM »
Steve could her Dora and Jeff joining in with the words of the Lord's Prayer, but he did not trust himself to do so without breaking down again. nor did he join in with 'Jerusalem although he knew it quite well from 'The last night of the Proms'. Jeremy raised his hands in blessing and dismissed the congregation The undertakers'' men removed the coffin while the choir softly sang 'O rest in the Lord. Steve took the children to blow out the candle then Dora handed them over to Annabelle who would look after them while the others went to the crematorium. Hazel was also staying behind. Steve took Cathy's arm not wanting her to cause a further disturbance. 'Are you coming to the crematorium?' he asked and was relieved when she nodded. He could smell the whisky on her breath and wanted to keep a close eye on her.
'I am a bit hungry though as I missed my breakfast.' Steve called Hazel over and asked her to bring Cathy a couple of digestive biscuits.
Eddy was taking hi car to the crematorium, so Steve didn't have to drive. Dora greeted her mother-in-law and settled her in the back. Ron was waiting with his car to see if anyone else needed a lift. The W.I president was taking a couple of her members while the others made tea for those remaining behind. No food other than biscuits would be served until people returned from the crem. The crematorium was on the outskirts of Leeds and only a 15 minutes' drive away. The committal was quite short and so they were back inside the hour.  Cathy was first at the refreshments table. Dora went and sat with the children who had been given squash and a chocolate biscuit. Steve went to fetch her a cup of coffee. Teri was working that afternoon so when it was time for school to come out Ron took Jeff and Pru with him to meet Rikki. Steve said they would pick them up when everything had been cleared away. He would drop Dora and the children off then take Cathy home. The mourners had nearly all gone by 4 o'clock. Hazel and Jodie had taken some paper bags to people could take some home to avoid wastage. The sandwiches had all gone and they packed the food which was still left into plastic containers. 'Save some for me.' said Cathy. The W.I president picked up a fruit cake which had not been cut. 'Here you are Mrs. Ross, take this. I baked it but we don't eat fruit cake in our house.'Ta very much. I'd like some of those sausage rolls, Hazel- and some scones too.'
'We may as well have some leftovers for tea,' said Dora. She and Steve went to thank Jeremy and the W.I ladies for their help and said they hope to attend one of the Christmas services. 'There's gifts for the church, the W.I. and various other charities mentioned in Milly's will' Steve told them. 'It's not a complicated estate so you should get those fairly soon. 'Jeremy shook hands with Cathy. Perhaps we'll see you at one of our services' he said. 'I won't be here for Christmas. I have other plans, she said. Steve breathed a sigh of relief that she hadn't said anything rude. On the way back to Leeds Cathy was very quiet and when he stopped at some traffic lights Steve looked at her and her eyes were closed. When they pulled up outside her block of flats Steve had to wake her. She was clutching an almost empty bottle of whisky.
'Mum, wake up. Please tell me this wasn't full when you left home this morning.'
'Course it was. I had to have something to get me through today, didn't I?'
'But that is all you've had?'
'Well, I did finish off what was in another bottle before I left.'
'You don't know what damage you're doing to your liver.'
'I've had plenty of food to soak it up. You don't want to come in do you, only I haven't had the chance to tidy up.'
'No. It's been a long day. I just want to get home to the family.'
Back home after they had eaten their tea Steve lit the Advent candle and when it had burned the day's section the children went off to play for a little while before bedtime. Steve sat in his favourite chair. Dora made coffee and went to sit on his lap. She saw his face was wet with tears. He enfolded her in his arms and buried his face in her hair, she cried too. 'You know it was weird today, love. I kept expecting Milly to be there because over the years she's spent so many happy and sad times with us, stupid I know!'
'It's not stupid at all. Come on Steve, let go. you've been holding your grief in all day. It needs to come out. There's no-one here to see. I've cried a lot already today and I daresay I'll cry again with you. The floodgates opened and Steve wept, his tears mingling with Dora's.
After both had subsided, he said 'I don't know what people thought of my mother today. she'd obviously been drinking
'Probably thought it was her way of getting through the day which in a way it was. Here finish your coffee while it's still hot.'
'I'm not looking forward to Christmas.'
'We'll try and make it as normal as possible for the children's sake. It's what Milly would want.
'
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Re: New Story told in instalments. Milly.
« Reply #29 on: November 14, 2022, 11:06:49 PM »
Pru emerged from her room crying because she had lost a piece of her jigsaw and it was one Milly had bought for her last Christmas.
'Never mind, poppet,' said Steve. 'You're very tired. we'll look for it tomorrow. Tonight, you can just have a good wash and a favourite story. We'll save Narnia for another night. Pru noticed that both her parents had red eyes and she climbed onto the chair with them. 'I had a cry at Uncle Ron's but I'm okay now. 'Do you feel better after you've had a cry?'
'A bit sweetheart but we'll all feel a bit sad for a good while yet.' said Steve.
'Do you think auntie's in heaven?' Steve who had no idea whether he believed in heaven or not did not answer but Dora said' Yes darling. I'm sure she is.' Jeff came in then. Uncle Ron and auntie Teri have got a humungus Christmas tree and they let us help them decorate it. When can we have a tree?' 'We'll go and choose one at the weekend. Tomorrow after school we'll go to the garden centre, and you can both choose a decoration to remind you of auntie Milly. We'll make sure we use them in our decorations every year. We'll buy an Advent candle every year too and light it in auntie's memory.' 'Can we have a chocolate calendar too? ' 'Of course!' If you like you can each choose an artificial tree for your bedroom. We'll buy some new lights because the old ones are getting a bit past it. We won't throw them out but use them somewhere. You'll need to do your homework before we choose our tree on Saturday then you can help to decorate it and make some decorations for your trees.
Mummy will help you to get ready for bed Pru then I'll come in and read you a story. Do you want to have a story in here now Jeff? you can then have  wash and read in your room till I've read to Pru then I want you to join us for a family chat.'
Jeff went off to get his book of adventure stories. 'Can I sit on your lap, dad?'
'Of course, you can.'
'Christmas isn't going to be the same this year is it?'
'No but we'll do our best to make it special in whatever ways we can.' Jeff chose a story about Pirates. Dora came and said Pru was waiting for her story and was very sleepy.'We'd better have our chat now I think Jeff.' They all went to Pru's room. Jeff sat on the bed and Steve and Dora pulled chairs close to it. 'Now how do you both feel about school tomorrow? You don't have to go if you think you're going to get upset.
'I want to go' said Pru. We're doing nice things for Christmas.' 'Yes, me too' said Jeff. 'The school Christmas sale is on after school so you need to come and buy something. We'll need money too. 'Santa's coming and we're all going to get a present' said Pru. Jeff looked as if he was going to say something, but Steve sent him a warning glance. He knew Jeff no longer believed and he didn't want him to upset Pru.
'You know how you and mum usually put holly round the photographs on the sideboard, can we put one of auntie there to decorate?' said Jeff.
'Yes we must do that I'll find a nice one and a frame for it' said Dora. 'Now there's lots of kids round here can we have a party just for us? asked Pru. 'Yes we'll do that too.' said Steve. They talked for a few minutes more then Pru began to yawn.'Off you go to bed now Jeff and I'll be in to tuck you in shortly.' said Steve. Dora sat listening to the story from the Faraway tree laughing as Dame Washalot's water went splashing down soaking Moonface who had been visiting a friend in the wood, he was very cross. Steve read with expression and soon Pru was snuggling down to sleep after both parents had kissed her goodnight. They then went into Jeff's room and found he too was ready for sleep.
The next day both children were given some money to spend at the Christmas Fare. The present from Santa Claus had already been paid for. Dora and Steve promised they would support the sale but first they had decided to start the sad process of sorting through Milly's things.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin