Tag Archives: #family

Its The Little Things That Live On..

Once the initial grief at losing someone we care about settles, you come to recognise just how much the person has touched your life in little everyday ways.

My aunt and namesake passed away last month. She was a feisty 82 years young but sadly cancer won the battle in the end. For the first time in my 51 years of life, I’m the only Coral in the family and, trust me, it’s a peculiar feeling.

Timing and covid and the small matter of three thousand miles meant I never got to say goodbye but then with us it was never goodbye. It was invariably, “I’ll talk to you after. Cheerio. See You later. Take care.”

As I’ve reflected on things over the past few weeks. I’ve begun to realise the extent of her touch on the little things in my life. Simple things like she was the first to introduce me to a breakfast consisting of a buttered, toasted cinnamon raisin bagel, topped with crispy streaky bacon, all washed down with a strong cup of coffee. Still my Sunday and holiday breakfast of choice. And every time I sit down to it, I picture her kitchen.

When I make potato salad, it’s her recipe I use, recalling fondly just about burning the skin off my fingertips trying to shell hot hard-boiled eggs as I helped to make a huge bowl for a US family gathering. (The part two of that story makes me both smile and cringe – as we cleared up post-BBQ debris many hours and a considerable amount of alcohol later, we found a huge slug crawling on the inside of the potato salad bowl in the cool box. Bowl and slug were promptly hurled out of the back door, down the yard and into the dark!)

I hold her wholly accountable for the fact I now have a house full of cats (I have 4). The first time I visited my aunt and uncle with the kids, Boy Child fell in love with Max, their huge Maine Coon cat. When we returned home, he was distraught at leaving Max behind. Less than a month later, our first rescue cat, Dixie, entered our lives. Sioux followed a few months later and the rest is history!

Every time I light a Yankee Candle Lemon Lavender scented candle I think of my aunt and smile.

There are countless precious memories that she played a hand in over the years. When the kids and I visited when they were little, she moved heaven and earth to make sure we had a great trip. (Ok, perhaps the only failure there was the white-water rafting trip on the Lehigh River but even that day had plenty of memorable moments, including my only ride to date in a yellow American school bus.)

It was my aunt (and uncle) who introduced me to Rehoboth Beach, DE way back in the sun-baked summer of 1980. Those few days at the shore triggered a lifetime of love for that special place. Many years later, when I was looking for a setting for my Silver Lake series, it was the first place to come to mind. A place close to my heart.

When I was trying to visualise Lori’s beach house, there was no doubt in my mind about which house to base it on – my aunt’s home. (Albeit in reality, its one hundred miles from the shore.) I never told her at first, but when I sent her a copy of Stronger Within, I got a phone call a few days later. I paraphrase here but her comments were along the lines of “So, I’m reading this book and loving it and thinking to myself “I know this house” then I realised it was mine!”

Memories of beach days together are extra special and stretch back to “jumping waves” at Ocean City, NJ in August 1974. Years later, together, we introduced my kids to the ocean and “jumped waves” with them for the first time in Ocean City, MD. Happy days.

The beach was a happy place for both of us. Might have been something to do with the name. We’d meander along the sand or simply stand watching the ocean for dolphins swimming by as we dug our toes in the soft wet sand. The photo above was taken at Cape Henlopen DE in 2006 and remains one of my favourites.

Those special to us never really leave us when they pass. They live on in our hearts and our memories and in everyday things.

Rest in peace, Auntie Coral.

Merry Christmas

Like most houses, there’s a Christmas tree in the corner of the living room taking up more than its fair share of the room.

I’m more than a little biased but I love my Christmas tree. This year it’s 27 years old.

When the Big Green Gummi Bear and I moved into our first one-bedroomed flat together, I broke the budget and bought the best artificial tree I could find and then blew the budget out the water with a dozen glass baubles, some red and gold strings of beads and a gold star. With the exception of one red glass bauble, that broke a long time ago, these all still adorn that same tree today.

There are so many memories intertwined in that tree’s branches.

Even the cardboard box it lives in, holds some fun memories. Girl Child hid in it one year and Boy Child and I taped her in!  I can still hear those squeals and giggles.

Over the years, I’ve added a few extra baubles- some snow globe ones with the kids’ names and the Big Green Gummi Bear’s name on them, one handmade one that Girl Child made in school, one Black Stone Cherry one (don’t tell the Big Green Gummi Bear, he hasn’t spotted it. I need to find an Alter Bridge one….) and one tiny red one that says Jake on it (never could find matching one that said Lori). This year it’s even gained an elf!

I know some folk swear by a real tree but to me that just lasts one Christmas (unless you buy a rooted one in a pot) and then it gets dumped at the recycling centre in early January and the moment’s gone.

I’ve almost half a lifetime of memories around my “antique” tree and each one sparkles and twinkles as brightly as the fairy lights draped round it.

This Christmas will feel different – we’re living in a different world this year – but it’ll still make its own precious memories. The top section of my tree is suffering a little from wear and tear… a bit like the rest of us. But like the rest of us, it’s hanging in there.

Have a wonderful Christmas. I hope Santa is good to you all. But above all, stay safe.

Photographic Memory…..

It’s no secret, I love taking photos. My phone has thousands upon thousands on it and I do actually browse through them on a regular basis.

They are a quick easy way of stepping back in time to precious moments.

They are the photographic memory of that split second in time or that trip that you took or the person you met.

They are a quick route to a happy place.

You get where I’m going with this.

I’ll no doubt get a bit of stick for this but the Nickelback song Photograph always makes me smile. Not so much in respect of the images that Chad Kroeger is singing about but about the images I recall with the same level of fondness.

Don’t know the song? OK here’s the link to it :

So what photos make my short list?

Actually, it could be a very long list so I’ll limit it to 5…whew I hear you sigh!