Our beloved sister Cynthia left this earthly realm on May 1st. I am so sad that I can’t continue this blog without talking about the influence she had on my life. We are ( I guess I should say were) a family of five siblings and she was the eldest. My first memory of her was when I was about 3 or 4 years old. We lived in a small town called Nyeri in Kenya where there were no schools, and Cynthia had just returned home from boarding school in Goa. My older brother and sister were still away at school and my younger sister was not yet born. So there was just Cynthia and me at home and she took me under her wing, the baby sister.
One of my earliest memories is of her telling me wonderful and inventive stories. I may have been a fussy eater as I remember her telling me stories as I ate, urging me to swallow before she would continue with the tale. I think the outcome was that I ate, but very slowly so that I could get her to tell me more. I eat slowly to this day!
Since there were no schools in Nyeri, it was she who taught me how to read and write. I think she may have been learning to type at the same time and she would type out things for me to read as there were no bookstores in Nyeri and so I didn’t have any children’s books. When we moved to Nairobi and I had to go to real school, I skipped a couple of grades and it was all new to me. I had no concept of doing tests and being graded. She told me not to worry about grades but to just do my best. She took an interest in what homework I had and taught me how to prepare for exams. Thanks to her, I always came first in my class.
When I was at University in Ireland, she and her husband came to visit. I didn’t know how to cook Indian food as my mum had done it all by eye and there were no recipes written down. She put together specific recipes with exact quantities which I still use to this day. She was a wonderful cook and thought nothing of inviting large numbers of people over for dinner and cooking lots of dishes.
My dad, who was a keen fisherman, taught her how to fish and she loved to take her children fishing. The children would compete with each other to see who could catch the most. Of course the cleaning and cooking was left to her which she did with great joy. Her son Trevor takes his young son salmon fishing on Vancouver Island and you can see see how pleased she is with their catch a couple of years ago. I could go on with more memories but suffice to say that she was a kind, generous and caring sister. Life was hard for her when she was young and she took care to make life easier for those of us who came after her. It’s hard to believe that she is no longer with us. We miss her and wish she were still here. I hope heaven is as she dreamed it would be.