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15
A Last Gift to Mummy

For AWallens for her birthday, and for mothers everywhere.


~~~

A Last Gift to Mummy


I have the dearest, most clever Mum in all of the Shire, and I love her very much. Each day she tells me how much she loves me, and I find myself smiling whenever I hear that. She has made my clothes and hats and scarves, and cooks my meals. She makes certain that the water in the pitcher in my room is warm for me to wash my hands and face when I get up, and that the clothing I want to wear for the day is where I can reach it, ready to put on. She lets me help her in the garden and the kitchen. She loves what I draw, and keeps some pictures I’ve done by her all the time. She and I pretend to be pirates, or to be princes and princesses hiding from dragons or brigands. She laughs at my jokes, and sings me to sleep.

I wonder if she realizes how much I love her and Daddy? I wonder if she ever wonders what I think of them when they leave me for the evening to spend some time alone together? Do they know I’m so glad that they have one another, and that they’ll still have one another after I’m a Hobbit grown and gone off to live in my own hole with my own family? And I hope that when I fall in love, it’s with a lady who is as wonderful as she is, and that she knows I love her as much as Daddy loves my Mum!


Bilbo Baggins took the little essay that Frodo had written out of his pocket and read it one last time. He looked at where Frodo was preparing himself to go out to the burial grounds in spite of his aunt’s insistence he stay safely in Brandy Hall and take no part in the day’s proceedings. No, he’d been right from the start—trying to coddle Frodo was the worst thing that could be done to the lad!

Frodo had written this during Bilbo’s last visit to Drogo and Primula’s hole in Whitfurrow. Bilbo had kept it, intending to have it properly framed so that the lad could give it to his mother for his birthday in September. But now Primula wouldn’t be there to receive it.

Frodo took up the wreath of white blossoms and early violets he’d woven that morning, indicating he was ready to leave the Hall. Bilbo gave him a nod, and led the way out of a side door so that they could reach the burial grounds as swiftly as possible.

Menegilda was glaring at them when they arrived, and Frodo refused to look at her after his first glance her way, keeping his eyes instead on the pine coffin in which his parents’ bodies would be buried. His face was pale, yes. But then, what did they expect? For the lad to appear bright-eyed and cheerful, singing nonsense songs under his breath and dancing the Bounder’s Jig? Bilbo was proud of Frodo, as calm and quiet as he was standing under the eyes of so many, both familiar and strange to him. Now and then a tear would slide unnoticed down his cheeks, but he was not crying out, wringing his hands, or otherwise making a spectacle of himself. Dora was giving him looks of concern and pride, even as she wiped continually at her own eyes.

Bilbo found himself using his own handkerchief, and surreptitiously offered a second to Frodo (he tended to carry more than one upon his person any more, since his adventure when he’d run off taking none with him at all). The lad appeared a bit surprised and accepted it gratefully, but didn’t really use it much, his attention again on the coffin. That horrible, simple, double coffin that ought not to be needed on this beautiful day. That coffin that this dear child ought not to be having to consider, for he ought to be heading home to Whitfurrow with his parents, perhaps with that pony Drogo and Primula had planned to acquire for him during this visit to Brandy Hall!

The time came at last for the words to be done with, and now Merimac and Saradoc were stepping forward with Dinodas and Dodiroc and a few others to take the ends of the ropes over which the coffin had been placed. Carefully they moved to either side of the grave, and lifted their ends of the ropes so as to move the box over the hole, and finally began slowly allowing it to drop down to its final resting place.

They all heard it settle against the earth at the bottom, and Frodo squeezed his eyes shut at the sound of it, taking a single deep breath to steady himself. As the closest mourner, it was now his right to step first to the open grave to drop onto the coffin his wreath and throw in the first handful of dirt. Bilbo briefly set his hand on the lad’s shoulder, then removed it. Frodo gave a slight nod and moved forward, his eyes infinitely tired as he let the wreath fall, ignoring Saradoc beside him carefully coiling up his rope. He then reached down for a handful of soil and cast it into the grave, flinching slightly as the pebbles could be heard making soft thunks on the top of the coffin. He then turned, almost uncertainly, and gave a watery smile to Bilbo as he stepped back to his place, allowing Bilbo to step forward next. He, as family head for the Bagginses, would be among the first to offer his handful of dirt in honor of Drogo.

Bilbo dropped the lily and primrose blossoms he carried, then looked at the carefully folded missive that Frodo had written a month back. The paper was already looking somewhat bent, after having spent so much time in his pocket in the last two days. He closed his eyes and bowed his head, and allowed it to fall. “There, Primula, Drogo,” he whispered. “Always know how dearly your lad loved you both.” He leaned forward to scoop up a handful of dirt and allowed it to sift through his fingers into the grave, and stepped back to again place his hand protectively, supportively, on Frodo’s shoulder. He’d have to fight Menegilda for the lad he knew, but in time he would insist on taking Frodo to Bag End, and would teach the dear lad just what it meant to be a Baggins, and greatly loved in spite of his loss.

And he seemed to hear Primula whispering in his ear, “Thank you so, Bilbo. I know you’ll always be there for the lad, as long as he needs you. Bless you.”

He smiled unconsciously as he straightened and tightened his hand briefly, assuring the blessed lad that he wasn’t alone—not today of all days.

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