Friday, 16 March 2012

Home Thoughts from my 'Childhood Nest'

There comes a time in most peoples lives, when they have to return to the nest they grew up in and empty that nest for the next family to take up residence and weave their story. 

So I find myself today, sitting on the floor of my old bedroom, as I did all those years ago, surrounded by photographs and letters, many of which I have never seen before. My lovely father went into sheltered accommodation recently and mum died several years ago, aged only 73. I still miss her like it was yesterday.

I didn’t know she kept so many mementos. I didn’t know she wove a history of our little family that told a story of just how much she loved us all.  Now her legacy to my sister and me is a history that fills the gaps and tells us just who she was, who our dad is and indeed how we have become the people we are today.  Strange I didn’t find these things when she died six years ago; only now, as I clear the home she loved, does she reach out across the divide to finish her story.

Until her late forties, mum had been physically fit and healthy, but from this time on she battled a disease called Lupus, that gradually changed her story.  That is why my heart leaps with joy as I find letters between her and dad when she was just 19 and he about 27.  She describes a hot summer’s day when she climbs to the top of a hill with her young brother David and I quote from her letter, “We both lay flat on our tummies and started to roll to the bottom. About half way down, I rolled on top of David and we both went tumbling to the foot of the hill. I must have looked a terrible sight sitting in the middle of a field, gasping for breath.  It was such fun, just the two of us playing around all afternoon and no mum to remind me I was a young woman and that it was not dignified to go rolling down hills!”

In dad’s letter he replies how much he loves her, of course, but tells her about the ‘Forty Footer’ and goes on to describe the coast in the south of Ireland where he grew up and how there was a piece of land jutting out over the Atlantic, beneath which the sea forty foot below never lost its depth. Sometimes it was calm and sometimes it was a churning cauldron, but always it was a challenge.  He describes the adrenalin rush of diving off the cliff edge into the deep water below, “Don’t be afraid for me!” he went on to say, “I love the danger and am more than a match for the mighty waves.”

As I sit amongst locks of my baby hair, every school report my sister and I ever received, every letter we wrote to mum, our drawings and our childish poems, I think of the vigour of youth my elderly parents shared and their amazing zest for life.  I feel a comfort inside to know they had their ‘time to laugh and their time to dance’ and I thank my mum for her secret history woven in love and left for me to find.


  1. Knowing all the things I've kept over the years, and thinking of the day my sons may sort through them as you did with your parent's mementos, I feel less like a hoarder and more like our family's historian! I think you have the makings of a lovely book there!

  2. Thanks Robin, keep weaving your family story!