Been a long time again – i have to admit to being a bit slack of late. Not leaving as much time as i should for blogging. So let me begin my first blog of the summer.
I have written before about chapters closing and opening in the journey of life. Leaving England last week was a very final and definate closing of one huge chapter in mine and many other peoples lives. After a massive innings of almost 92 years, my Granma died and was burried in the morning of the same day i left england. Of course, my departure was postponed until after the service and wake were complete, for the one good reason that i wanted to be there.
It is important to remember that it was death that gave me the urge and push to move on from england and seek adventure in my life. Being of an era when people only travelled between cities or towns, I am not sure if my Granma would have understood why i wanted to seek new adventures in different countries or continents. I have no doubt she would have grumbled about it – not silently, that wasn’t her style – she would have been vocal and open about it. I am sure she cursed me for my sense of adventure because she didn’t understand it but also because she fully understood that we would inevitably see less of each other and that ultimately was sad.
Should we stifle our own ambitions for the pleasure of others ?
As a kid, i spent a lot of time at East Street. I was always in awe at christmas time of the amount of strings on the wall above the sofa with christmas cards on them. It was a standard that all other walls were judged on. Who had more than her ? no-one ! I also remember discussions in recent years when she would comment on how each year, they were getting less and less. Not because people were no longer friends but simply because they were dieing off. Fully aware of the cycle of life, she knew her time would eventually come and certainly had no fear of it. I am not sure if i am the only one who had such frank discussions with her about death but the ease of conversation was always welcoming. This ease stretched to the ability to ask for a photo of her on her wedding day with my grandad. ‘Could i have it when she was dead?’ was my simple question. Of course she wanted me to take it there and then but i refused, i didnt want to take it from her. I told her i would find it when she was gone.
It turned up in the church of all places – displayed on a table on the other side of the coffin, inevitably bringing a stream of tears to my eyes. It seems the photo found me and now it travels with me.
War time stories mingled with working boat stories as we chewed on ‘rock cakes’ or choked on pickled onions and sterilised milk. Smoking my first fag, muttering my first swear words, drinking my first whiskey pep. It all happened at East Street, dragged up the road by that mental dog Cindy, listening to steam trains on the grammaphone, scratching cigarette scratch cards to try and win money, sneaking around ‘Winkles Yard’ at the end of the street, knocking on windows at the flats and trying to run back to the cover of the garden before being seen ( ok – this may just have only been me but i am sure she knew what i was doing). Morris engines caravan rallies, Big George and Stan in the tug-o-war, egg catching competitions, watching TV with the volume far too high.
It was of course very distressing to see her the night before she died, to see such a fragile person, fighting with every breath but i am sure, waiting for her fight to end. I am thankful though, that i was lucky enough to have seen that smile once more. To have been in England at that time was, as far as i am aware, one of my better moments of good luck with timing.
So the endless cycle of life continues, no-one is immune, no-one is invincible, no-one immortal.