Years ago, Dr P gave me a string of pearls, which had belonged to his mother. I seldom wore them, and the year before he died, he gave me another string of pearls, extremely beautiful, which we chose together. I wear them often, and they are very precious to me.
After his death, I wondered what to do with his mother's pearls. I felt that they should go to a blood relation. Given that his daughters and I are exceedingly unlikely to have any further contact, there seemed no simple answer. Finally I took my courage in my hands, and wrote to the younger of Dr P's two nieces.Their mother, Dr P's sister, had died of poliomyelitis when the younger daughter was only 15 months old, and their grandmother had taken over their care.
Our contact with this niece had been infrequent, as they live far away, but she was always pleasant and cordial to me. She had not been involved, to my knowledge, in any of the aftermath of Dr P's death. I decided to offer the pearls to her. With much trepidation, I wrote offering the pearls, asking her to keep it confidential, between the two of us.
If anything, I expected a written reply. Instead, today she telephoned me. It was, I thought, very brave of her to ring me, rather than replying by letter. We talked for some time. She was very glad to have had the offer, and does indeed want the pearls. We did not go into chapter and verse of the events since Dr P's death, and it seems she was not involved to any extent in them. She seemed to understand that I hope never to have any further contact with Dr P's daughters and their families - or with her sister, who is married to Dr P's solicitor, who was quite obnoxious and offensive towards me during all the legal exchanges.
This younger niece was very close to her grandmother, and I think has relatively few family items. I have sent her the pearls. I hope she wears them with pleasure, and in loving and affectionate remembrance of her grandmother, and that her daughter inherits them in her turn. I am glad to have made this offer and gift, and that the two of us have reached some degree of understanding, reaching beyond the hostility and bitterness which followed Dr P's death.