The old lady, up the humpy, bumpy road, when I was a child, gave my Mum a clump of forget-me-not flowers early on when Mum and Dad had moved in and had a big empty garden to fill. The clumps of flowers grew as I grew, and they seeded themselves all over the garden, always putting on a display in early spring of modesty and shyness – their small dainty flowers, sometimes sky-blue with a tiny yellow middle star, sometimes pale violet, always snuggled around by green, soft-as-lambs-ears leaves.
One time they were my muse and the subject of a painting – a childhood sketch and early foray into water-colours, that, however inexpertly done, were still recognisable. That painting was to be pressed into service as a Christmas present for Grandma – cut out and stuck on to a white background, and they sat within a little dark frame gracing Grandma’s front room for many years to come.
Long after the old lady passed on, when Mum and Dad came to move, they took with them a few flowers to put in their new garden, some clumps of forget-me-nots included, which grew and seeded themselves now in the West Country. As time went by and I had my own garden to nurture and fill, Mum gave me some clumps of forget-me-nots, which I planted in the autumn as sparse green bundles of leaves.
But now, with the warming sun and lengthening days, they have unfurled their beautiful flowers. Even though it is all these later, Mrs Gower, so generous and kind, we forget you not.