I've always written stories, although mostly in my head, and usually when mooching about a graveyard at midnight. Very atmospheric places, graveyards; the inscriptions are so thought provoking. How exactly did X die? What were his final thoughts? His final words? They say your whole life flashes before you when you die. What did X think of? What had he done in his few years on earth?
And that brings me to the question 'What have I done?'
My first thought is, I've done a lot more than my mother or grandmother could do in their times. I've had immense opportunities, in education, travel, employment, that previous generations (of women, at least) had little access to. I was also blessed with an adventurous father who never shied away from putting his children into imminent physical danger. He uprooted the family when I was little and settled us in Africa - quite a wild place in those days.
This led to a wanderlust, which I seem to have bequeathed to my two children. My husband, Gerry, and I dragged them over to Africa when they were little, just as I had been dragged. And Africa certainly gets under the skin. I've dodged armed dissidents in Zimbabwe, navigated a civil war in Kenya, and nursed a dying husband (who actually made a complete recovery). I've managed to get two degrees. I've ridden horses, done a parachute jump, raised two distinctive children and taught many hundreds of mega-bright English students from whom I've learned more, I reckon, than ever they did.
Oh, and I've also played foster-mum to a series of pets, mostly cats, though with the odd dog, or snake, thrown in. Unfortunately, we're petless at the moment as my two - slightly retarded - 'rescue' cats died after 14 years.(That's them in the washing machine.) The cat-shaped holes in our house have yet to be filled.
That's a glimpse of my life then, and it's a bit more than I could fit onto a gravestone.