10 years ago, I moved with my other half into his mother’s house. It was a temporary arrangement just so we could save for a deposit for a home of our own. This was when we were young and full of adventure and having kids was a lifetime away. The only thing that was in my plans was my outfit for the weekend and which pub or club we would hit.
The best way to describe my mother in law is that she was a ‘real character’!
Her door was always open and the kettle on, with a knack (some would say talent) for finding an odd bargain or unusual item, be it from the market or charity shop, or even a little unknown boutique.
I was in the kitchen one day and she came booming in the door with the most beautiful red Christmas coat and bonnet, it was for a child aged 3 to 4. There were no kids in the family at the time and it could have been July. But we both just fell in love with it. We were getting giddy trying to think of someone to give it to and the suggestions were flying.
I kept wondering would they love it as much as we did? In the end, she said to me, “You keep it,” I looked at her surprised. “Keep it up somewhere safe, you never know. You could have a girl someday yourself.” I thought about it (for about a second) and agreed. The two of us still giggling and whispering, in case anyone came in and came to the conclusion I was pregnant. We also agreed it was better not to tell my other half – I didn’t want to scare the living daylights out of him, the ring wasn’t even on my finger so kids were light years away.
A few months passed and we finally got the keys to our first home. When I was unpacking, I put the coat and bonnet in a bag on top of my wardrobe.
I took it out now and again, and contemplated giving it to one of the nieces that came along over the years, but didn’t have the heart to let it go.
My husband and I got married in 2010 in Vegas with all our family and friends around us. No sooner were the vows said, my mother in law would joke about the coat, and when was I going to get down to the matter of grandchildren? 3 years later, sure enough, I fell pregnant! I was having a girl (I couldn’t wait to find out). My mother in law was delighted with the news, just like the rest of the family. I would call up to her every Wednesday morning during my pregnancy, for a cup of tea and an egg in a cup. We would chat and laugh about everything and nothing at the same time. She’d put my recliner up and stick on an old movie, sometimes we would even have a snooze, she always had the house was so cosy and we felt so at ease in each others company.
One Wednesday morning I called and she wasn’t there.
I gave her a quick ring, and no answer. Very strange, I thought. As the day unfolded, I discovered in shock and devastation she had taken a stroke. How could this happen to a woman who is so full of laughter and life? Her health deteriorated in the following months, and as we brought our own special lady into the world, we had to say goodbye to another special lady, her Grandmother – each as important as the other.
My mother in law passed away just 2 months after our girl was born.
Christmas is such a time of joy but it is also mixed with a lot of sadness for so many families. My mother in law loved Christmas, and she would be so proud of our girl in the red coat and bonnet today. She wears it so well and knows its gift from Nanna B in Heaven. Everywhere she goes in it people stop us and tell us how beautiful it is on her, asking me where I got it and saying it is just made for her. This keeps Nanna B at the heart of the conversation, exactly the way she would want it and exactly the way it’s meant to be.
5 years gone today, you are always in our thoughts. I dedicate the story of the red coat to you x