EXTRA GRAN • by Patsy Collins

“I’m sorry, love, I know you’re upset, but we need to talk.” Darren took my hand, leading me away from the room in which the old lady lay dead. “We have to decide what we’re going to say,” he continued.

“We’ll tell the children the truth; they’re old enough to understand.”

“Of course they are; I didn’t mean them.”

“Who then?”

“The authorities.”

“What authorities? What are you talking about?”

“We’ll have to get a death certificate, have her buried.”

“Yes, obviously.”

“They’ll need to know who she is. Was, I suppose I mean.”

“But, we do.”

“Sorry, Joanne, but we don’t, really.”

He was right of course, I knew that, I’d simply forgotten. Funny really, the things you can forget.

I remember the day I first met her. I’d just discovered I was pregnant and raced to tell Darren. I’d burst into his office without thinking. He’d hugged me and laughed. I didn’t realise he wasn’t alone until after I’d told him our good news.

“Congratulations my dears,” his visitor had said.

“Oh Lydia, I’m so sorry,” Darren stammered.

“Oh don’t worry about me, it does me good to see people happy,” she’d answered.

She’d gone on to wish us joy of our growing family. Her words were so obviously genuine they really moved me. I knew that if she was seeing Darren professionally then she had her own problems.

Darren never normally discusses his cases. He wouldn’t have mentioned Lydia again if I hadn’t asked. Maybe because I’d met her it seemed different.

“Doesn’t she get on with her family?” I asked. “That’s why she said all that stuff about holding on to each other?”

“She doesn’t know who they are.”

“Why not?”

He hesitated before telling me, stroking my still flat stomach as he decided what to say. He knew me well enough to know it had to be the whole truth, or nothing.

“It seems she had some sort of accident. She was found; years ago this was, lost in a wood. She was wearing filthy tattered clothing and was very thin and dehydrated. She couldn’t remember who she was. The first night she kept calling ‘Lydia’ in her sleep. When she was questioned in the morning she still couldn’t remember anything. When they asked if Lydia meant anything she just said it was a pretty name. That’s how she came to be called it. The woods were inspiration for her new surname. Although she recovered quickly, she never regained her memory. She’s been searching for a family ever since.”

“Lydia was my mum’s name.”

Darren squeezed my hand. He knew the story as well as I did. My parents had been driving me and my grandmother to the beach when they’d crashed. Aged two, I’d become an orphan. I’d been lucky; I was fostered and adopted by a wonderful couple. They already had five children of their own, but had plenty of love left over for me. I’d benefited then, and still do, from a caring extended family. I felt so sorry for Lydia who had been alone all those years.

“You said this was years ago; how many years?” I asked Darren.

“Twenty two.”

“What month?”

“Early July.”

It was in late June, twenty two years previously, that my parents had died. After a little research, we discovered that the woods in which Lydia had been found were just a few miles from the beach that was nearest the town in which I’d been born. Lydia was not my mother; I knew she had died, not disappeared. The amazing coincidence of us both being robbed of family memories in the same place at the same time formed a bond between us.

By the time our son, John, had been born, Lydia had moved into a flat in the street next to ours. She sat with my adoptive mother as I gave birth. We began to call her ‘extra gran’. She was a wonderful great-grandmother to the children. She helped look after John whilst I gave birth to Emily, and both of them when I went in to have Rebecca.

Darren’s parents and my adoptive family were supportive too of course, but they already had grandchildren. Their time was divided up amongst several children and their other interests. It was different for Lydia; we were all she had.

She lived in her flat, visiting us often for twenty three years. Lydia got ill just a few months after Rebecca left home. No one knew her exact age, but she was by then a very old woman. It seemed natural for her to move in. She was very easy to look after for the few weeks she lived with us, not that I’d have begrudged nursing her, had that been necessary.

It turned out that Darren needn’t have worried; there was no problem in registering the death. Paperwork had been raised once it was clear that her memory would not quickly return and she was given a new legal identity.

We had her buried next to my parents and grandmother. The headstone reads ‘Lydia Forrest, devoted and beloved Extra Gran of John, Emily and Rebecca.’

“I don’t know who you were before I met you Lydia,” I whisper as I lay flowers on her grave, “but that’s certainly who you were from that moment on.”

Patsy Collins lives on the south coast of England. Her stories and poems have been published in a range of UK magazines including; The Lady, Woman’s Weekly and My Weekly. Her work has also been accepted by a variety of websites including Every Day Fiction and PatientUK.

This story is sponsored by
the psychic archaeologists at The Morpheus Initiative — Check out author David Sakmyster’s first two books in a trilogy about remote-viewers, ancient mysteries, lost tombs, and exciting adventure! At Amazon.com or visit www.sakmyster.com.

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