After a time in the doldrums, things were looking up. It started towards the end of February, when Heather began to celebrate her birthday/month: it's never just a day. Her friend Sally suggested secretly the creation of a book of contributions and photos - and it succeeded brilliantly. Heather had no idea until it was actually presented to her. This took place at the National Gallery. She had invited about 30 of her friends for an hour's guided tour of four paintings from different centuries - from ven der Weyden to Turner, followed by a meal in a reserved section of their restaurant. What her friends did not know was that Heather would be the guide.
A week before, we had gone to listen to a rehearsal and she did very well on the day. In fact some casual gallery visitors joined her guests to listen. The book organized by Sally is a brilliant summary of her life. You will not be surprised that I am quoting here just my own contribution:-
Recording memories about Heather is hard - I'm getting old and do not remember a lot. And I'm also getting forgetful. She is my favourite youngest and tallest daughter, and now she is forty... kilograms - no, forty inches - no, forty something. Ah, years. I had been sure that our babies were going to be boys and therefore I would choose the name: William, in memory of my grandfather. So Judith chose Daphne for the first baby. And when we made the same agreement for our second child, Judith told me when I came to visit that she had chosen the name Ruth. For the third baby we agreed to choose the name together. Still no William. The Forsythe Saga was on television and the character of Irene was a lovely person. But we already had a close relative called Renee. At Westminster hospital one remarkable ward sister was called Heather, and Judith agreed. I cannot remember the conception or the pregnancy. Heather was born at Mile End Hospital. We refused a single room, because it was less safe for calling help in an emergency. The other 3 women in Judith's ward were all unmarried mothers. Judith's father was quite amused. Heather's birth was induced - we suspect that this was because the obstetrician was due to go on leave. With her first breath Heather inhaled a very keen cockney bargaining talent - unlike her elder sisters. From Judith, Heather inherited much tact and common sense. And an excellent talent for cooking. From me she inherited an overcrowded dentition that needed correction, but not the myopia - that went to Ruth. Her judgement and analysis of peoples' characters are superb. She has also inherited my sense of humour - and I'm telling everybody.
Alas, Sally herself herself was highly pregnant and could not come.
The next happy event was Jeffrey's upgrade of my computer. There were snags and setbacks, and required several visits, but with a new motherboard and a faster processor life now is certainly vastly less frustrating.
Lastly, the weekend just past. On Saturday we attended the Bat Mitzvah of Hannah, the daughter of David, the son of Judy's cousin. It took place in an orthodox synagogue. Therefore, for a girl, the ceremony took place after the conclusion of the Sabbath service, without prayer shawls, and with the women now sitting (separately) down in the main hall. Hannah gave her dissertation in a clear loud voice, pausing brilliantly between paragraphs: she is a clever girl. The rabbi praised her and presented her with a prayer book, but gave no blessing. After hospitality in the synagogue hall, we walked to the nearby parental home for a lovely fish-based meal. Naturally there was grace after the meal and an entertaining poem written and recited by David. They really are a lovely family.
Then, on Sunday, we attended the celebration of Harold's 90th birthday - in the premises of our [former] reform synagogue. Another tasty fish-based meal, and some humourous speeches. No grace after the meal, of course. Unfortunately there was live music throughout, which made conversation almost impossible. But it facilitated the post-prandial dancing - at which point we thanked Harold and Betty and departed.
Later we discussed our impressions and agreed that we would certainly not wish to celebrate our own possible event in that format. But there is still plenty of time.