Clarissa – Part 5

I’ll put up some of the pictures from the album in the next day or two. I’ve been looking again at the one that started it all, of Clarissa on her 100th birthday. I’m sure there are some from her party somewhere, but this one is lovely because she looked so happy. It was a great idea, to have a peal of bells rung specially for her.

She did love a party, she came to all my mother’s. By the time she was 100, my mother and stepfather had moved from Oulton Broad to Wrentham, so they invited their local friends to celebrate. I don’t really remember much about it, except that my mum had crammed 100 candles onto the cake and it set off the smoke alarm, there was such a conflagration and the candles had to be blown out in a hurry. I remember Clarissa thinking it was a great joke.

She was still able to come out to visit, though she always used a wheelchair by then. She was still in pretty good health otherwise. She became increasingly frail, not unexpectedly, but she was thrilled when I had a third baby, a month after her 102nd birthday. As she couldn’t quite make out his name, Ronan, she heard it as David, her sweetheart from 8 decades earlier. We gave Ronan to her to hold and she got the angles a bit wrong, so that his feet were lower than his head, but she was so happy to be holding a baby again. But she gradually faded away over the next few months and didn’t make it to Christmas and another party.

Her house had been sold to pay for her care, but there was some money left, which she left to my mother in recognition of all the years of friendship and hospitality. My mum used to say, if ever I’m cantankerous when I’m old, you only have to say two words – Miss Fitt – and I’ll mend my ways, I’ll know what you mean! But, when she was old (not that old, she didn’t make it to 80) and really quite difficult sometimes, we wouldn’t have dared! Though she once said, she could understand, as she got older, why Miss Fitt was so bad tempered. And yet, I do feel warmly towards her, she was such a part of my childhood. I’m not sure if that means I’m getting mellow and sentimental, or whether I’m getting a grumbly old woman and have fellow feeling.

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