I was out with Mrs Banjo and the young Banjos yesterday. They were shopping for school uniforms as Erin, the golden-haired one, is joining her older sister at Slemish College in September. Meanwhile Bert babysat the youngest Banjo - his godson Ben.
Sensibly Ben had no desire to go shopping with the girls and when I arrived to collect them all I found him looking out for me, hopping from foot to foot with sheer excitement at the prospect of a day helping Bert in the nursery.
Our shopping trip went well. Jazzer got the uniforms organised in record time and I bought sports shoes, (my first in over 20 years) as I have walked my sandals into juggins. When we got back Bert reported that the hard work had given Ben a tremendous appetite and that he had eaten two sausage rolls, a boiled egg, all the ripe tomatoes on the vines and a bun.
When the Banjos departed I tried out the trainers and found them fine to walk in. I had another go in them today and I think they give me a lot more support. I walked up the Aghill Road and along Drumack Road, then across the moss. Years ago Bert's father Johnny used to take turf from along the Drumack Road. We'd all go, Johnny, Pearlie, Lizzie, Bert, the girls, me and our dog Danny. Gathering turf in the moss was like being in a different world from the everyday. Mosses are magical places.
The moss hole that Danny used to love swimming in was still there. After swimming in the peaty water his coat was always so clean and smooth. There must be something in it that acts as a conditioner for dogfur. While Johnny and Pearlie loved working in the moss Bert and I used to hate the thought of it because of the hard work but we always enjoyed it when we got there.
Remembering all this about Danny (gone) and about Johnny (gone) I found myself becoming very emotional. Even as I write this I can feel tears welling in my eyes for missing that good man and that good dog. As I walked back I pondered on how short life actually is. Sometimes when I am walking on a long straight road I pick a distant landmark, a far off house or tree to walk towards. For ages it seems to get no closer then it does and suddenly I'm upon it. That's what my life feels like today. I was once a young woman with small children and our lives stretched out in the distance before us. That's behind me now. I've walked it. And can only retrace my steps in memory.