Aunt Nelly was a great embroiderer. She created all sorts of wonderful things from handkerchiefs to lace collars to tapestries, with her beautiful needlework. On every piece she made she embroidered a little white flower, sometimes as hard to find as that last piece of ocean in a jigsaw puzzle, but there if you looked close enough. It was her signature.
‘I love the flowers you make,’ I used to say to her.
‘Thank you, my dear,’ she would reply. ‘But flowers made from thread are never as beautiful as the real thing.’
My Aunt Nelly died when I was seven. It was the first time I shouted at my mother. ‘You are lying,’ I cried when she told me. ‘You are a liar.’ It was inconceivable my beloved Nelly, pretty, pure and sweet as her white flowers was gone. It was the worst thing in the world.
For the longest time I couldn’t look at white flowers. They were ice in my heart, a photo with a familiar, longed for face ripped out. But now, after all these years, I can look at them and feel the joy of them; and remember my dearest Aunt Nelly, always in my heart.