My Nanny Tree

Finalist in the 'Beyond Words 2015' competition

I was only three years old when I arrived at the funeral for my Nan. Too young to understand what had happened. I could still smell her as I sat down in the rickety old seat in row four. She always had a rich scent of curry leaves, freshly picked from her back garden. The funeral went on for hours longer than I imagined, but when it was finally over I fell asleep in my old car which was almost as worn out as I was at the time.
We kept Nan’s ashes in a used Milo tin where she wanted them to be. Over time, rust started to develop on the tin, and the sun-bleached green paper wrap started to peel off. The tin now said ‘ilo’ because the ‘m’ had faded away.
As days went by I still couldn’t figure out what had happened to Nan. We drove up to my aunt’s house and stood in the backyard. My cousin said a poem about Nanny and then I watched my uncle carefully dig a hole in the ground. I could smell smoke as a bonfire was crackling away while my aunty put a small flame tree in the hole along with some of Nan’s ashes. It caused a huge dust cloud and my sister screamed that some of Nanny got on her skirt. We continued to fill the hole using dirt. The whole family gathered around, held hands, and sang a song. Then dinner was served. It was a delicious chicken curry, perfectly cooked chicken with hot rice drizzled with a scrumptious creamy sauce. Nan’s favourite meal.
On my way home, my sister asked why we had to do that. My dad explained that we planted a ‘Nanny Tree’, as a memorial to her. My brother asked why Nanny looked like crumbs and my mum told us that they dried Nanny out by taking all of the ‘juice’ out of her.
That’s it! I knew how to bring Nanny back! When we got home I took the orange juice out of the fridge along with the Milo tin that held our share of Nan’s ashes. The lid was sticky from spilled milk and was not easy to get off, but I managed to do it before tipping the orange juice in with a hope Nanny would appear. Nothing. I could hear mum’s footsteps as she walked into the room. “What are you doing?” I told her my idea. She kneeled down with tears rolling down her cheeks, and put her hand on my shoulder. She told me that you can’t make Nanny come back, but as long as you remember her, she will always be with you. Mum hugged me close.
I now struggle to drink Milo, but I love flame trees, so I still go visit the Nanny tree in my aunt’s backyard. I have always remembered Nan, and hopefully, she has remembered me. She loved to tell me stories, so this is my story for her.
Love you Nan,
Neve.

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