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Just One Day 2

Updated: May 4

In which a departed influence appears in the room, some years after her passing.

She had been here before. Her wide hat larger than life as she stepped into the drawing room again if only to spend just one day with me.

I had always felt her to be someone who had "been here before", even when I was a young child. Her choice of dress was far out of the ordinary, her long chiffon black skirt blacker than night velvet, a brooch tightly clasping at the neck her most glorious and theatrical victorian lace.

“Darling.” She delivered in the biggest most eloquent outburst. “Darling little lady you haven’t changed one little bit.”

She squeezed my cheeks with her warm fingers, expecting them to be childhood chubby. It was odd to feel those fingers on my face, and odder still to to hear these words from the mouth of a woman who was certainly passed, and had without any question been a rare but special influence on my young life.

Once a year, as sure as the changing seasons, or British Summer Time, as certain as the night sky, Dame Frieda would appear at the door of my country home as a glorious apparition who would celebrate her friendship with my mother through a warm exchange of smiles, and a small amount of paid business. As sure as the sunsetting over our garden she would be shuffled off to the west wing for a good night’s shut-eye, and to write up her certificates in the biggest, most glorious flourish of an unusual and calligraphic hand, always in ink.

Frieda was something of an enigma, a wondrous mentor, a guide, and likely more than she would ever know to many many people , and today she was returning to show me that while the seasons might come and go, and life and death happens in between, memories don't fade. Frieda was a special and brilliant British eccentric and I knew I was lucky to meet her, but why was she visiting me now, all these years later?

She had had a period of rest, that was possibly several decades long and the peace of death clearly suited her like life, because today she looked even more glorious and wonderful than even I had remembered her.

She handed me a tube of lightly dusted chocolate almonds, and my heart sung. The same treat. She remembered how much I loved them.

The cycle of her visits and those wondrous chocolates had stopped short and I was never sure why. Perhaps she had become too old to manage the train journey from her faraway home. Nobody talked about the D word but I had assumed she must be gone.

Her voice like lush gravel. “Some of us never die".

She began to spout the words of the bard - The Seven Ages of Man. She then proceeded to throw off her glorious black cape with the gayest abandon.

She looked around her. “How I have missed your family, my sweet darling, and not being sniffy but I’ve been watching the changing seasons and there is something a little lacklustre going on here. Is it your mother? Don’t tell me I’ve missed her?”

“Yes. She’s gone.”

“That will explain why I've been thinking of you all. Darling take it from me, nobody lasts forever” she annunciated “although let me tell you something" and she looked around her as if about to impart life greatest mystery.

There are some words that transcend time herself. Never underestimate the power of poetry or a life in Purple prose. Never question it." "Theatre darling, darling darling darling darling darling don’t get me started.“ She didn’t stop for air.

“They’ve only given me one day. When the clock strikes twelve…” I imagined a black velveteen pumpkin. She glowed as she enthused about her love of literature. I looked out of the window. The moon was full but it simply served to light the night sky and I was far from afraid. Having her here in the room was heavenly and her return to my life today seemed oddly inevitable. I was grateful for it. I looked at her, unable to take my eyes off this magnificent being whose presence filled the room, with "life". I wondered how old she must be and tried to count her wrinkles in the way I had once learnt to count the rings on a tree.

“Frieda I’m not sure why of all people you chose to visit me but you might want to know you always had a special place in my life.” “I know that darling, I know”she beamed back at me and her piercing blue eyes glinted.

I felt deliciously complete.



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