My cousin, Sara

From the first, Bronnie talked about his cousin Sara as friend, sister, confidante. And although I wasn’t to know it then, Sara and I were one day to become cousins by marriage.

Our first meeting (memory don’t fail me now) was at a restaurant in Boston. Bronnie and I were in the throes of the messy beginnings of our relationship amidst judgement and opinion – some valid, some not, most unsolicited.

This was the background against which I was to meet this doyenne Bronnie so revered.

And what did I know secondhand? Well, I knew Sara was funny, cultural, intelligent, intellectual and creative. She had been a clown for many years and (naturally) a good one. Nicknamed ‘Dilly’ the clown, I knew Sara then interchangeably by her birth name and her stage name. She was later to step out from behind the shield of Dilly and ask to be known by her given name.

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My friend, Jinny

I first met Jinny when I was a young woman, through a flurry of fury and tears as my disappointments and hurts were being hurled into a surprised suitcase on a stone wall terrace. Vowing never to return to my future husband’s family home, her sturdily built frame strolled up the driveway and cast an enquiring shadow.

In a brave act of rudeness (I didn’t know how brave then), I asked this old woman if she too had come to put her two cents worth into the drama.

“I don’t know dearie,” she twinkled, making herself comfortable on the hot stone wall, as though in a movie theatre waiting for the curtain to come up on the second act of something. “Why don’t you sit here with me and tell me all about it.”

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Real love is not like the movies

Real love doesn’t have to look like the movies, and we can come away from the love we see in movies and hold our relationships up to that same mirror. Little wonder, then, that so many Valentine’s Days end in tears and recrimination.

Frankly, I’d be hard pushed to remember a Valentine’s Day Bronnie got right. Let me see. The burnt breakfasts; the lukewarm romantic baths with some sort of snake oil floating on top; the ‘surprise’ gift carelessly left on his desk (with the receipt); the roses that had to be given last rites…I could go on but, hey, he meant well. A phrase I came to loathe.

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First dance wedding surprise

Are you good with surprises?

I’m not.

Not even the good ones.

Send me into a dark room, flash some bulbs in my face and have a motley group shout


and I get an ungrateful feeling tingling all up in my Tena Lady.

Even if there is cake.

Yes, birthday or not, anniversary or not, the whole thing just feels a little, well, terrifying.

Unsurprisingly, an inability to enjoy a well meaning surprise and just ‘go with the flow’ is often attributed to some past traumatic lack of control, quickly followed by those two words – Control Freak.

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