Yesterday, the world lost a kind, gentle soul who spent her whole life looking after others. Chris held her family together with love, and then shared her love with countless others through a lifetime of teaching, before it reached our little family to boot. Hanno’s mum was my heroine, for so many reasons, but mostly for the love she sprinkled through the world so freely.
We’d meet at Hanno’s house for races, or his plays, in between swapping texts and the odd game of Words With Friends, (that she wiped the floor with me in). Occasionally we’d call, but mostly to organise food; nevertheless, when we were together, we picked up where we left off. Fitting into the banter and laughter of familial insults of longstanding relationships. Archie has grown up with her in his life as someone who talked with him, not to him.
From the devilled egg standoffs with her daughter in law, to the roast dinners; from the chicken salads, to the breakfast rolls; from coffees to copious amounts of wine, our relationship revolved around food. Us ‘ladies what lunch’ drove to Rutherglen for some downtime away from the boys and endless football codes. We sampled wines, had lunch, went to the chocolatier, Rosie (my cousin) and I chatting in the front seat on the way home, Chris snoozing in the back.
We sat in a Laundromat drying bedding and towels in companionable silence, getting coffees on a cold, wet day, again getting out the house from the football! Walked round Farmer’s markets and brought fresh veggies, cooing over the soil still damp on the carrots, exclaiming at the crispness of the greens. I loved cooking for her, because it meant she sat down and didn’t do anything. From when she woke up to when she went to bed, unless she was sitting down to have a cuppa; she was on the go. Looking after Keith, cleaning the kitchen worktops, sorting laundry, if it needed doing and you didn’t stop her, Chris did it.
We cheered Hanno on from the back of the hall at his first play, slowly being allowed closer to the front of the hall through the years as his confidence grew. Archie telling me loudly to ‘Be quiet Mama!’ when I got the giggles.
The time we spent with Chris and Keith was filled with laughter, food, joy, food, love and more food. From my first trip over in 2007 where Chris had changed the bed in the spare room for Hubs and I, smoothing the sheets over with love. Folding the towels like a hotel, she made sure we were welcome. Never knowingly under-catered, we always had more food than we knew what to do with, Hanno’s house had elastic sides with people crashing on couches, in beds and cousins joining for breakfast after sleeping in a caravan on site just down the road.
Archie and I visited a few weeks ago, taking some flowers he had chosen for her. We only stayed long enough for Archie to eat his lunch, and a quick catch-up and a hug. He’s missing her already, trying to explain it all to an almost seven year old is hard work. While Archie knows that she’s gone, Chris will never be forgotten. Forty years of teaching, almost fifty years of marriage, two proud sons, four indomitable grandchildren, family, friends. All of us who knew Chris are better people because of her.
Be like Christine, pay your love forward. Greet the world with open arms and an open heart.