The biscuit plate was coming around the room, being passed from person to person, and it was coming in his direction. It was stacked with everyone’s favourite biscuits, digestives, rich tea, custard creams , Bourneville and just two Abernethy biscuits, his favourites.
They were all here, crammed into Aunty Netty’s front room, much older now, but still his family, his precious loving and compassionate family.
But the biscuits were going down, and the pate had still not reached him.
Dad looked sombre and wistful, not fully engaged in the buzz of conversation flowing around the room. He looked across the room at Aunt Netty, sitting there surrounded by her loving family, but so empty and alone. Bill had gone, my uncle Bill who had taught me to ride a bike, and skim a stone. Who had offered worlds of wisdom into my life, dead and now buried. My Dads second best friend, his brother who he had shared a life time of living, the empty space in the room. Mum held onto Dads hand tightly.
One of the Abernethy’s had gone, cousin Violet knew I loved them so she was still teasing me , across the room just as she had done when we were kids together.
The village had been so tight back then, so close and comfortable, with the freedom to explore and roam, knowing that when you needed help it would be there. We had grown up in this large extended family of the village, taking for granted this precious community of hope and love and now it was fading away as the world changed around it. Most of us had left as we grew up, to seek our way in the big world, out there assuming home would always be here to come back to. But now I could see that it was fading into the past. The graveyard now had so many stones with names I had known well, it had been their village, they made it for us, so much more than buildings and place.
Finally the plate arrived, but all of the Abernethy’s had gone. I passed the plate onto cousin George who loved custard creams and smiled gratefully at me.
Violet smiled across the room at me and held out her hand. There was that last Abernethy biscuit. I reached out to take it as my family laughed, they all knew of course. Violet held my hand for a moment, our shared sense like a cord that bound us together , so physical and real in that room on that day among us all.
And the biscuit plate continued around the room.