There’s a lot of plastic toys in our house at the moment. Occasionally the girls even play with some of them.
But the real fun starts when mum and dad are the toys. When the Witching Hour brings no witches and there’s time for games between supper and milk. Hide and Seek is the favourite right now. The baby still thinks that covering her head makes her invisible. And no concealment can hide a fit of the giggles. I love their giggle fits in the evening. It means bedtime will be ok.
Into one of these moments, the phone rings. It’s my Dad.
“Nev, your uncle Donald died about an hour ago. Mum is in London now helping your Auntie Gwen”.
I think about Uncle D for a minute. The old photographs of him in his bespoke-suited youth; the quite awesome collection of Kung Fu movies he once had (until God persuaded him to get rid of them); his fondness for Bulla cake. I think of how my mum adored him, and how dementia hollowed out his last years.
Later on, I look in on my little girls as they sleep. They’re just passing through, really; this time next week, they’ll be taking their exams. Hide and Seek might be a bit passé by then. And in the meantime, countless plastic Christmas toys will be unwrapped, cherished, outgrown, discarded and forgotten. But my memories are for keeps.
I make a silent promise to play with the girls more, while they’re here.