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the flower box; Now Nan could take a little patch of garden with her.

Kay sat on the step of her pottery studio cradling a cup of tea when she felt a nudge on her arm. It was her nan's Yorkshire terrier, Pansy, rushing past her, and Kay watched with affection as she began doing joyful circuits of the lawn.

Kay had been apprehensive at first about taking in Pansy, having never had a dog before, but things had happened so quickly after her nan's fall that she felt it was the only option. Nan had been so grateful that her dear little dog didn't have to go to strangers. Kay had learnt to live with the fact that the tiles on her kitchen floor were frequently covered in mud and there were paw prints all over the handmade patchwork quilt on her bed. Pansy's exuberant presence had lifted her spirits in a wonderfully unexpected way She love of and her and she found herself enjoying the dog's company more and more now that her son Danny was away at university and she was in the house on her own.

ached she It had been left to Kay, Nan's only living relative, to break the news that she was going straight into a care home after hospital due to her failing vision, and that her bungalow would have to be sold.

'I never really liked the place anyway,' Nan had confided in Kay. 'My home was with your grandad in Sheridan Lane, the bungalow was just a place to live after he died.' 'I know,' said Kay, stroking her hand, relieved that she was not more upset at having to give up her independence.

'And you are happy to look after Pansy aren't you?' Nan asked. 'I know you aren't that keen on dogs, dear, you like to keep your house spick and span.' 'It's fine, Nan, I'm happy to have her,' said Kay, giving her hand a squeeze. 'Pansy makes the house untidy now instead of Danny. I don't know what I'd do without someone to clean up after!' They shared a gentle knowing laugh with their heads bent together, one grey ponytail and one brown.

Nan suddenly clutched at the blanket and Kay looked at her in alarm.

'But my garden, Kay,' she'd said, her eyes filling with tears. 'All my beautiful flowers. My roses and wisteria and nasturtiums. I'll miss them so much.' Her bottom lip trembled as the realisation sunk in, and Kay felt helpless to do any more than sit with her and quietly share her loss.

shared her grandmother's flowers, heart for what Back home that evening, Kay sat on the patio with a glass of wine and took in the warm vibrancy of her own garden in full bloom. She shared her grandmother's love of flowers, and her heart ached for what her nan would miss when she went into the care home. She wanted so much to make it better for her, but she couldn't think how. It was Pansy in the end, digging enthusiastically in the herbaceous border and kicking up the flowers, that gave Kay the idea for the perfect present for Nan.

would miss The next morning Kay drove to Nan's bungalow with Pansy on the back seat, and they made their way through the side gate and onto the lawn. It was late June and they were met with a glorious riot of colours, scents, butterflies and bees. Kay took a linen bag and some secateurs out of her satchel and began snipping off the sweetest blooms she could find, as Pansy ran round her legs in excitement.

Back in her pottery studio Kay set about making a simple slab box and lid that she decorated with carved impressions of the flowers from Nan's garden.

'Pansy,' she called, just before she put the pot in the kiln. The dog came running in from the garden, covered in dust and mud.

'I've got a special job for you,' said Kay.

The next time Kay visited Nan she was already in the care home, and despite Kay's protestations on the phone, she had been told very firmly that they had a strict 'no animals' policy, so she'd had to leave Pansy at home. She did have the flower box, though, and she carried it into Nan's room, placing it carefully on her lap as she sat in a comfy chair by the window.

'I made you something, to remind you of your garden,' said Kay putting Nan's hands on the box and letting her touch the lid and sides.

'I can feel the pattern of peonies,' said Nan in astonishment as her fingers traced the carvings.

Kay beamed with pride, 'Yes that's right, now open the box.' The scent of the dried and pressed flowers filled the room and Nan's face lit up as she picked up the blooms one by one and named them by their smell and feel.

'Sweet peas, roses, cornflowers,' she blinked back tears and nodded at Kay. 'This is wonderful dear, thank you so much.' 'There's one last surprise Nan,' said Kay.

'Turn over the lid.' Nan did as she was told and tentatively felt the underside of the lid.

'Pansy's little paw prints!' she exclaimed with delight.

'I couldn't make you a flower box and leave out your favourite flower of all, could I?' said Kay with a smile. 'And, in fact, Pansy is fast becoming my favourite flower too.' | | NEEDLE MOUSE BY JANE O'CONNOR (EBURY PRESS) IS OUT NOW ON EBOOK AND PAPERBACK, PS7.99

She shared her grandmother's love of flowers, and her heart ached for what she would miss
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Aug 25, 2019
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