written by Nelle
Poignant memories of my father filter through my memory, dancing and elusive, I almost capture them but then they slip away, eluding my grasp, fading and returning to the past. So time has dimmed my earlier recollections of dad but not so much my mother.
Life goes by so quickly that it’s good to stand still and let the memories catch up; memories that hold our thoughts long forgotten. I remember our home being filled with music, all sorts of music, my mother’s music, sing-along’s around the piano, my brother’s cowboy records and later me playing rock and roll, I know now why mother used to say ‘ turn that infernal noise down’ (my mother was a classical music student) many hours whiled away reading books; endless hours of me murdering the piano -I did get better when I got over my petulance and resentment – I preferred to sing or practice my ballet steps when i wasn’t doing chores.
I was always a homebody, my family were everything to me as is so today but mother was the lynch pin of our family- the glue that bound us together. It was she who made sure we were in church every Sunday, allowing our faith to grow and knowing we needed a strong back-up when trouble knocked on our door; as it has been proven so many times for me, over the years.
I was always a’ bush baby, I could never survive in the city. The love of the bush has never left me; it always gives me a sense of belonging and truly is my heartbeat and the place where I find peace and where I can recharge my batteries. Our backyard was a place where you could lie and watch the clouds floating by and dream of castles in the sky; the joy of a fine, sunny day which made you glad to be alive, early evening following the drumbeats of the crickets, finding glow worms amongst the logs and trees which always fascinated me, the cooling breeze on a hot summer’s night whispering in the trees and brushing your skin making it feel cool, the beauty of a sunset and the kiss of moonlight that makes the day seem endless.
Tracking down and catching a cicada, and on one occasion taking it in to mother, who told me quite severely to return it to where I found it. I couldn’t understand why she was upset and it wasn’t until I was older I found out. I wasn’t present, when my younger brother was laid to rest and the cicadas screeched in the trees around the cemetery, relentlessly. The sound of these insects haunted my mother for the rest of her life. How naive we are when we are young, tragedy has not yet touched us and brought storm clouds to our horizon, those tears await us in our future.
My mother laughed again of course, and that made me happy but as I grew older I recognized the signs of her pain, when she became quiet and reflective as each anniversary came around; hopefully, I was a comfort to her. Her pain never seemed to lessen and she never reconciled to the loss of her son. I haven’t mentioned dad here, as he, too, must have been hurting but as usual with him, stiff upper lip and so the grief that he must have been feeling was overlooked and contained within, a thought now which distresses me greatly, because he needed a hug too.
From the perspective of today’s secular world, we had a deprived childhood but what we lacked in material possessions, we gained in better ways. We were rich in love, laughter, a close family unit and reared within the infrastructure and guidelines of Christianity (this factor alone has helped and guided me in my actions as my faith is an intrinsic part of me and supports me at all times); also from my parents I received the many tools I needed to chart a course for my life and which has stood the test of time. So history is repeating itself, what I was taught I have passed onto my children and they in turn, to theirs. If I am indicating to the reader that we may be paragons of virtue far from it, as we, in our wisdom and mistaken in our beliefs that we knew it all, went merrily on our way but almost immediately our mistake was realized and with the advice of those who knew better, still ringing in our ears, moved back to safer waters. The mistakes we made and the way we dealt with them, shaped and defined our character, making us into the people we are today.
Good times, sad and happy times, tears and laughter, all blending together and woven into the tapestry of our lives, allowing us to look back down the years and remember with love those who have gone before and appreciating those who still are with us. As quoted in Ecclesiastes: A time to cry and a time to laugh; a time to grieve and a time to dance.
In later years my mother would tell me ‘you are the light of our lives’ and again,’ a blessing in our old age and a great comfort’. These are thoughts I hold onto and which bring me comfort in the sad times. Not that they didn’t love their sons, they did, but a girl holds a different and a special place in her parents’ hearts. As the years flow so quickly by I miss them and their loving arms every day. How wonderful it would be to phone them and say ‘it’s me’ and the answer coming back ‘hello, darling-love’.