I never knew my mother. She died in childbirth and my grandmother raised me, naming me Lucy in honour of my mother’s favourite poet, William Wordsworth. The space for my father’s name on my birth certificate was ominously blank and Gran denied any knowledge of who he might be. I only asked once; I sensed Gran thought it a closed subject.
An introverted child, I was content with my own company, Gran’s extensive library and her glorious garden. From the moment I could walk I followed Gran asking the names of each flower, picking bunches for the vase on our kitchen table and pulling out more than a few seedlings along with the weeds.
When I was ten, Gran gave me a well-worn copy of Wordsworth’s Lyrical Ballads from the highest shelf in the library. She said my mother read it a hundred times. I took it to my favourite corner of the garden, a shady spot beneath an old Oak tree where fragrant violets grew in profusion, and read it for the first of a hundred times more. Pressed between the pages of the Lucy poems, I found violets. That night I slept with the book under my pillow and dreamed of meeting my father.
We visited the cemetery every Sunday and placed flowers on my mother’s grave. Gran’s eyes always filled with tears but I never felt close to my mother there, rather I felt she was close when I sat under the Oak tree.
Gran died when I was twenty-three and was buried beside my mother. After the funeral I returned to the Oak tree to grieve. I clutched Lyrical Ballads and tears flowed. Then, as the sun dropped below the horizon and the light dimmed, I sensed I wasn’t alone.
A shadowy figure stepped from behind the tree trunk and handed me a small posy of violets. As I lifted them to inhale the sweet perfume, his lips gently brushed my forehead, then he turned and disappeared into the evening.
I heard gentle laughter on the breeze and knew my parents were together again.