Born on Boxing Day
she lived a hundred and one years
- all through the Great War
that failed to end all wars,
the social revolution of the twenties,
and the great depression,
before marrying at the age of twenty-five.
And even then she had to declare
her father’s occupation
on the marriage certificate
as if "father : ostler" defined her.
The marriage took place on Christmas Day
to save the expense of another family gathering.
She never went out to work after that,
no longer just her father’s daughter
but proud to be a wife and mother,
first in rented rooms with a shared outside privy,
then to a modern house “like a palace”
with a refrigerator
and a washing machine
and a garden
where her husband could grow things.
She always loved babies and children
and even at the last,
after years of advancing dementia,
with eyesight, hearing, mobility, and memory failing,
she would always come to life
in their company,
everything forgotten except how much she loved them.
We finally said goodbye, knowing
that although she had little to give
she gave it to the end.
My lovely mother-in-law.
Boxing Day is December 26, named for tradespeople who received a gift, usually cash, as a Christmas Box.