When I was growing up I used to revel in stories that my parents told me about their childhoods (particularly the ones when they were naughty). As Ben can’t regale Sas with these tales himself, it’s down to those who were with him – his parents, sisters, aunties, cousins – to share as much with her of the little boy Ben as they can possibly remember.
Ben’s Mum, Delia, did just this yesterday when she dug out some of his school books from when he was at infant school and told Sas and I about how he loved writing stories and showed great talent, even at the age of five. Then she started to read them out loud to Saskia, including this little gem, called ‘The Magic Tree’ (you can just about read it if you enlarge it a bit)
There was beauty in that act – it brought father and daughter together, through these treasured stories, now read in the arms of the woman who has in her life held both of them on her knee.
It gives me an image of our family not as a line, with a gap where Ben once was, but as an enfolding, encompassing circle, where shared stories and love across the generations continuously fuse us together.