Friends

31 May 2012

Get Well Soon

With so many people suffering from 'summer' colds I thought I'd re-post this little poem



I was so very sorry
You were feeling rather ill
I wondered, yes I wondered
Did it help to take a pill

You needed a dose of TLC
Once you’d taken to your bed
The formula was guaranteed  
To ease a pounding head

Also you would find enclosed
An additional provision
A hug that I’d created
To beget a fast remission

I fashioned it with sympathy
Coloured with affection
Adding reassurance
To cope with an injection

I took a crumb of wisdom
To include inside the mixture
To make it known that hereonin
Your illness was not a fixture

So hurry now and get well soon
I’ve been so very troubled.
It felt as if you’d gone astray
And missing you had doubled

~~~~

(Hee, hee, now you know I’m rubbish at this poetry caper)




29 May 2012

Trust Not The Vow ...- Chapter 32


An anguished groan made her turn towards the kitchen just as Eric stumbled into the room. A broken man, shrunken, every inch his sixty-odd years. She looked from him to her mother. In that split second, she understood. Only an hour ago he said he loved her. A jest. Just something to say. He had fought her battle as he promised he would. Now she was compelled to fight his. As in a world of make-believe, she watched him watching her mother. She saw him kneel and grip the knife. She saw the bulge beneath and wondered if the child would also die.

She was amazingly calm; cold, but not lowering temperature cold. She queried where the emotion was. She was bereft, feeling neither wrath nor grief. Eric must have endured extreme emotions to become so violently incensed. Did love do that? She had often felt murderous and had threatened all sorts of spiteful things, but never wanted to kill. Not really kill. But she was denying the truth. She had wanted to annihilate her mother. Many times. That was the same as killing, wasn't it?

Rex licked her hand. His eyes were sad, his tail stationary. He knew the trouble they were in.

Eric was mumbling. It sounded like Help me, dear God. She didn't know he was religious. Cautiously she crawled from her refuge, leaving the safety of the bookcase against which she had subsided, stupefied, when her mother fell. 


‘I had to do it, Rachel. Do you see?’ Eric had also stirred, removing himself from her mother's lifeless form, still on his knees, but leaning now towards Rachel, petitioning her to understand. ‘Eventually, you would have done the same. I couldn’t risk it.’

He looked so old.

‘I couldn't risk that depraved woman offending my girl any more.’ Eric mumbled, talking as if Rachel wasn't there. ‘Enough was enough.’

Shuffling on her rump to his side, Rachel embraced his shuddering body. The lapels of his raincoat were wet with raindrops. He should have taken it off. She would have dried it for him.

‘Enough was enough. Couldn't let it go on. She’s a madwoman.’ He twisted within Rachel's arms and clutched the bib of her apron. ‘It couldn't go on. I had to do it.’

She rocked him as a mother would comfort a troubled offspring. ‘Shush. It's over.’ Sliding a hand over his head, she whispered, ‘She can't bother us any more. We must decide what to do.’

HER hand trembled as she replaced the handset. What would become of them now? The realisation that there would be no more heartache had been slow to emerge. When it did she wanted to rejoice, but it didn’t excuse the deed. Eric wasn’t the only guilty one. If it wasn't for her continual griping and taking advantage of his fondness for fellowship, he would not have become so tragically embroiled.


She went back to the crime scene. With fearful trepidation she toed the chef's knife, kicked it away. It spun across the rug. Rex watched from the corner; he didn’t dart after it. Staring again at the body, Rachel was thankful its back was towards her. She couldn’t have borne to look at her mother's dead eyes.

Eric was where she left him, sitting upright, his back against the bookcase. He appeared to be dozing, eyes closed, his breathing shallow. His lips moving in silent recitation.

WHILE she listened for the blare of sirens, slamming car doors, hurried footsteps on the path, she allowed herself the luxury of a glass of wine. White wine, expensive, an extravagant purchase for a special occasion. Glancing at the clock, she speculated on how much longer she would have to wait.

Daylight was fading. Shadows filled the room as one by one the street lights came on. One was reflected in the oval mirror, a beacon of light to expose the guilty. Rachel adjusted her position, stretching her legs in front of her. Gripping Eric's hand, she mentally bridged the years, past scenarios spinning chaotically as she reminisced, her stoical appraisal eventually disrupted by an insistent knocking at the door. It was time to be taken into custody, to be slung without question into filthy, black dungeons, clammy, like the shelters in the field, where their bodies would rot and their minds shrivel, where Amy would be waiting to haunt them.

REX romped to the hall.

How long would it take them to break in?

She heard Ralph's voice calling.

Scrambling to her feet she hobbled into the hall, her joints set from sitting too long on a hard floor. Seeing Ralph's blurred head through the porthole window she eased the door open, slowly and unsure.

Rex was beside himself when he saw Ralph, with Terry next to him, a man of similar build and equally erect. He gave her a boyish grin, held out his hand, in a laughter-filled voice, he said, ‘Hello, Rachel.’

She hid her own hand behind her, silently imploring them to go.

After quietening Rex, Ralph wrapped his arms around her, asking if she was all right.

What could she say? Of course I'm all right. Mother's dead. That makes everything perfectly all right.
Giving her a quizzical look, Ralph let her go. ‘Come in, Terence,’ he said, pushing the door to and advancing towards the living room.

Then he'll go to the kitchen to see what's cooking. Closely followed his brother.

Outside, a car door slammed. An orange light flashed intermittently through the round window, lighting her hair with orange streaks.

Someone leaned on the door bell.

Rex clamoured.

That’s when she fainted.

EVERYONE was talking at once. Rachel opened her eyes to discover that she was lying on the couch, cushions supported her head. Rex was guarding her, his head resting on her thigh, unblinking eyes fixed on her face. She could smell death in the room.

Instantly, Ralph was beside her. Terry stood opposite talking to a policeman and another man in a dark blue suit.
‘How do you feel, love?’

‘Dreadful.’

Before she had time to sit up, the man in the blue suit came across. ‘Rachel Ellison?’

Rachel nodded.

Oh Gary, where are you.

Rex nuzzled her.

‘Detective Sergeant Bulwell. Can you give me your version of what happened?’

Frantically, Rachel scoured the room. ‘Where's Eric?’

‘Gone to the station.’

She sprang to a sitting position. ‘I must go to him.’

‘Did you see him do it, Mrs Ellison? Did he threaten you as well.’

‘My God, what is this. Why would he threaten me? He's my best friend.’
Ralph and Terry exchanged glances.

‘He loves me. He did it for me. And I'm glad he did. Glad, do you hear? The bitch is, was, having my husband's baby. She deserved to die. I should have done it, not Eric. I wanted to do it. I didn't have the guts. Racking sobs stemmed the flow making her next words barely audible. ‘I'm as guilty as him.’

The room was abruptly hushed. Three men posed like statues, gesturing hands suspended in the air. The fourth looked on, notebook in hand, tiredness etched on his face. They stared. Rachel wondered if it was because of Gary that they stared, on account of his implanted child. Or was it because of her declaration of pleasure?

‘Tell me about it,’ instructed the man in the blue suit.

The uniformed policeman flicked open his notebook.

WITH Rex at her feet, Rachel told her story, one hand absently stroking the dog's fur. She described her failed marriage, Gary's romance with Amy, the deception. When asked how Eric fitted into the plot, she talked about their relationship, describing it as platonic. Most of the time.

DS Bulwell remarked, ‘I'm surprised he didn't let your husband have the knife.’

Rachel chewed her nail. ‘None of this was Gary's fault. My mother lured him. The poor man didn't stand a chance.’

Ralph's face was stricken, Terry's bemused. An amused glimmer passed between the blue-suited man and his colleague.
Rachel stood up. ‘Do you know, I feel happy. Free. Whatever happens to me from now on, I'll take with pleasure, and I'll be a new woman at the end of it.’

Rex whimpered and licked her hand. She knelt at his side and put her arms around him. ‘It's all right, Rexie,’ she said, burying her face in his neck.

Ralph touched her hair. ‘I'll look after you, Rachel.’

She tightened her hold on the dog. Ralph was a different problem; right now she hadn't the stamina to resolve it.

The Detective Sergeant suggested it was time to depart for the station, mentioning statements and further information. Eagerly, she took off her apron. She would make it right for Eric. She went for her coat. Kicking off the fur-lined, blood-smeared slippers, she slid her feet into the cream sandals she had intended to wear at dinner. On her way out, she put a hand on Ralph's arm. ‘I'm truly sorry,’ she said, referring to the ruined evening.

‘I'll look after Rex until you return.’ he said. ‘And I’ll keep in touch,’ he added as he kissed her cheek.
The problem, apparently, had resolved itself.

RACHEL left the house with the Sergeant. He held her arm as if she was an invalid. It occurred to her that she hadn't enquired what happened to her mother. She supposed she had been carted off in a body bag; she really didn't want to know. She felt no remorse. As she climbed into the car she saw Ralph at the door of his Rover. Terry was already in the passenger seat, tugging at the seat belt. Ralph lifted his hand to wave. He looked wistful, she thought. For the first time, her own tears fell.

It would have been no good, Ralph. I would have destroyed you as well. I couldn't ignore the vow I made to Gary that I would love him forever, for better or worse, till death do us part.


THE END
************************************
This story was 75% true, based on the life history of a friend but changed, with permission, to suit the writing of a book. As can be appreciated, there could be no happy ending for Rachel because there was none in real life. And anyway, not every situation has a happy ending!

28 May 2012

Monday Mirth



A policeman stops a woman driver and asks for her licence. He reads it and says, 'Lady, it says here that you should be wearing glasses.'
The woman answers, 'I have contacts.'
'I don't care who you know,' says the policeman, 'you're getting a ticket.'

**

Did you hear about the 83 year old woman on her way to church who talked herself out of a speeding ticket? She told the policeman that she had to get there before she forgot where she was going.

27 May 2012

Sunday Scene


This shot at Warwick Castle was taken by my stepdaughter's partner. I like the angles of the building and I'd love to home in on the couple walking towards it. Wonder what they were talking about... smiles.

26 May 2012

Saturday Special

I found this video of Sutton Park on YouTube. Forgive me for keeping on about it but it really is a hallmark place and I am proud to live so close to it. It has always been part of my life, I played and swam there as a kid, courted there as a teenager, shared with husband and child, and walked the dogs day in, day out. 

25 May 2012

The Fox

(picture courtesy of ironammonite.com)

A few days ago the fox lay in wait at the bottom of the garden. That’s when I saw him. He was crouched in stalking position, bushy tail waving excitedly. Then he dived into the bushes, presumably after a bird. It could have been a squirrel but a squirrel is as canny as the fox, he would have been up and running at the first sniff of one. Or would he? I watched and could see the fox darting about but by this time he was always behind foliage so I didn’t get a clear view. I didn’t get a picture either. My camera was elsewhere and if I’d gone to get it the whole scenario would have been missed.

Nature can seem cruel sometimes but the fox has to survive, same as the rest of the wildlife. We feed the birds, and the birds feed the fox. Sad, but true.

The fox looked healthy and young, not old enough to have caught the mange or other life threatening disease. I actually thought there were two of them because one disappeared into the bushes on the right hand side of the garden and seconds later ‘appeared’ on the left. However, foxes are clever at disappearing and reappearing in the time it takes to blink so maybe that’s what happened ... I blinked.  If there were two it would have been good to see both youngsters playing together on the lawn.  

Later in the day I saw him again. Just the one. The sun was out, it was warm, and the Freddy the Fox was lying down, for all the world like he was sunbathing. I watched from the window until he moved and, as I thought, left the garden. I went down there to check and saw him lying amidst the undergrowth, in the area I designated as my wild patch, or to put it a better way, a wildlife patch. I spoke a few times. He looked at me for a couple of minutes, then got up and slunk away.

By early evening I was getting used to seeing him. Freddy found another sunny patch and decided to have a bit of a nap. I stayed in the house and watched. Cameras were fetched and shots taken but deep down Hubs and I knew it was a useless exercise considering the distance between him and us. Finally, Freddy stretched, stood up, had a scratch, and ambled off into the unknown.

A few sunny and warm days later I went down the garden to inspect the new growth in my 'rough patch'. Foxy must have been asleep behind a bush because for about five minutes there was nothing  but peace and quiet, then suddenly the animal darted out and rushed right past me before racing round the garden to his escape route. I couldn't believe I had been so close to him and me without camera as well. 

I hope he comes again. Perhaps I should carry the camera with me at all times ... regardless. 

24 May 2012

The Birthday Lunch


A view of Gavino's where they serve the finest quality food and the freshest fish, in pleasant surrounds, and excellent value for money. The menu is excellent, see here for mouthwatering dishes.

Gavino started his catering career at the age of 18 with the Italian air force, as part of the ground crew for the famous military acrobatic flying squadron 'Le Frecce Tricolour. After he left the air force in 1973 he travelled to England leaving his home town, Porto Torres in Sardinia, Italy. He later fell in love with his wife Karen. After 36 years of marriage, three children, and a 12 year break in Italy, Gavino came back to Sutton Coldfield to open his new restaurant, Gavino's.

Gavino is an authentic Italian restaurant where the whole family is involved. Meet Gavino and Karen (the owners) Gian-Franco (the director), Bonny (the secretary), Antoni (bar tender with a beautiful voice). Christian (youngest in the family and youngest waiter) and of course Gian Luca Stefanelli, the top Italian chef.

They all make sure the customers' dining experience has a true Italian feeling. They welcome people speaking a bit of Italian and they remind us not to forget to say Ciao, grazie and 'il conto per favore. e fi

I like the way the blue water glass picks up the reflections

Mushrooms, cooked in an unpronounceable way, which was DELICIOUS

Prosciutto and finely sliced melon 

Veal cooked to perfection and served in a mushroom sauce (that's not what THEY called it!). Benessimo!

Steak al pepe was superbly tender 

With shared accompaniments

A brioche based dessert which apparently was delicious, and my favourite tirisamu. As you can see, and this was a great surprise, the tirisamu was served with a lit candle, presented to the tune of 'Happy Birthday' (a recording) and carried by brother and sister (seen below). Other staff watched from the back of the room. This was a total surprise but a very pleasant one. Quite made my day.

Gaelic coffee, as if we hadn't had enough to drink with the bottle of Pino Grigio!

Ameretto biscuits, as if we hadn't eaten enough!

Cappuccino


Italian brother and sister who went out of their way to see that we had a great dining experience...


...and who produced Moscato and Lemoncello to finish off the celebration. Honestly, you would have thought it was a special birthday but I guess they're all special when you get older!

Whilst we were there the men arrived outside to start trimming the village with Jubilee decorations.

Back home, I studied my new Kindle until it was familiar enough for me to start reading books.

What a great day!

23 May 2012

Wordless...

  It's my birthday so I'm allowed to put words on a 'wordless' post. Just wanted to say how pleased I am that the sunshine is finally here and it's warm, nay HOT ... how's that for a great birthday present? Off out to a special lunch at Gavino's, a true Italian family run restaurant where the food is magnifico. Then it's back home to play with a new Kindle. 

22 May 2012

Trust Not The Vow ...- Chapter 31


By mid-afternoon, Rachel had completed her preparations for the evening. She had cleaned the kitchen floor, vacuumed the hall carpet, tidied the shelves over the bureau, plumped the cushions, and straightened the rugs. The work was vigorously done in an effort to repress the sadness borne from Gary's departure.

The wine was cooling in the fridge, all she needed to do was cut the steak into smaller portions and prepare the vegetables ready to cook in the last half hour. She decided to do it now so that she could relax for the remainder of the afternoon. Rex had not had a proper walk but he seemed happy enough watching her work. She mentally promised to take him later on, providing the threatening rain held off.

Rachel went into the kitchen and began separating broccoli florets from the stems, letting each one drop into a bowl of cold water. It was a vegetable Gary found distasteful, but one which Ralph enjoyed. She was not looking forward to the dinner party, not now she had seen Gary. She still felt choked at the prospect of never seeing him again.

Three short rings on the doorbell introduced Eric's arrival, somewhat surprising considering he knew her programme as well as she did. Nevertheless, she was more than happy to let him in. ‘Thought you were going to the Bridge Club,’ she said, raising her cheek to receive a glancing kiss.

‘Mildred's gone to an emergency committee meeting. There was no point going alone. I thought you might like some help.’

‘I've been wishing you were here since this morning, ever since Gary left.’

Gary? Has he been here?’

‘Yes, but he's gone now, for good, to work on an oil rig.’

Eric gawked. ‘An oil rig?’

‘That's right. He's deserted.’

‘Saints preserve us!’ Eric extracted a handkerchief from the pocket of his raincoat. He wiped his neck, then noisily blew his nose. ‘Where does that leave you, dear girl?’

‘Exactly where I was before he arrived, only more miserable. Take off your raincoat, Eric. Would you like some wine?’

‘Have you any vodka?’

‘Afraid not.’

‘Then wine it shall be.’

While he hung his raincoat in the hall, she removed one of the bottles from the refrigerator, thankful she had put it there so early. She took the opener from the cabinet drawer. ‘Could you uncork this,’ she asked, when he came in. ‘I was wondering, if Mildred is out, why don't you join my little dinner party? There's plenty of steak for four of us.’

‘Kind of you, dear girl, but I imagine Ralph would rather he and his brother had you to themselves.’

‘It's got nothing to do with Ralph. I want you there.’

‘Cold feet?’

‘Something like that.’

‘I could leave straight after the meal, I suppose. Give you young people some space. Only fair, after all. If I did stay, who would you pass me off as?’

The question startled Rachel. ‘My friend, of course. That's what you are. My very best friend.’

‘Thank you, Rachel. I love you, too, and I accept your invitation.’ Eric took a sip of wine. ‘Now, there must be some task I can do to assist.’

‘You could take Rex for a short walk.’

Rex's tail started to rotate.

‘Ah, the mutt. Mustn't forget him. I will take him to the field as soon as I've drunk this.’

ERIC set off the back way, through the garden to the right-of-way which would take him to the road alongside the field. Rachel waved at him through the open window, then went back to preparing the broccoli, more content than she was before he showed up. Outside, next door's black cat leapt soundlessly across the bottom fence. Rachel paused to watch. There was not a sound. No twittering birds, no speeding cars, no gossiping neighbours or rowdy children. Even the house was hushed. The whole world, it seemed, was taking a siesta. It was pleasurable, rejuvenating, a moment not to be ruined by the chaos of mundane noises.

The sound of the door bell reverberated cruelly through the building, someone anxious to gain prompt admittance judging by the insistent hammering on the panels.

Resenting the person who had deigned to target her private retreat, she opened the door to find Amy standing on the path, bulging grotesquely with child. Her coat flapped open to reveal a flowered top that looked as though it had seen better days. Rachel stared at the woman who had not only stolen her husband, but had the effrontery to besmirch her door with her filthy, man-fondling hands.

Amy pushed in as though it was her right. ‘I want to see Gary.’

‘He's not here,’ Rachel barked, trying unsuccessfully to bar her way.

Amy went first to the living room, then the kitchen, then retracted her steps and returned to the hallway. Propelling Rachel to one side, she started up the stairs.

Galvanised into action, Rachel threw herself at her. ‘What the hell do you think you're doing?’ she yelled, spinning her round.

‘I want that dirty, double-crossing, useless bastard.’ The bawling, abusive name-calling was reminiscent of the hurtful labels Amy pinned on Rachel as a child.

‘I SAID he's not here.’ Hauling Amy into the living room, Rachel rammed her onto the couch.

Amy thrust herself forward, striving to lift herself up. ‘What ….’

‘Shut up!’ screamed Rachel.

‘Don't you ....’

Balling her fist, Rachel hit her in the face. It felt good. A lifetime's frustration had gone into that punch. Blood jetted like tap water from Amy's nose, falling on the flowery smock where it was lost in the flashy purples and glaring reds.
I didn't like it anyway, reflected Rachel, fascinated by her mother's futile attempts to quench the flow. And Dad would have been horrified to see her wearing such hideous gear.

‘Get me a cloth, Rachel.’

Rachel didn’t move. She was delighted to see Amy's distress. In fact, she would have conceived a deal of joy from adding to her misery, bestowing a few cuts and bruises to lastingly deface. The nose continued its prolific bleeding. Red streaks on the plain ecru cushions prompted Rachel to fetch a cloth and a bowl of soapy water. Gary would curse if they were ruined. Pushing Amy to one side, she knelt in front of the couch, coolly setting about cleaning the covers, dunking and squeezing the rags, swabbing in circular motion.

‘You don't care about ….’

Thwack!

The waterlogged rag met its target, right in the middle of Amy's face. The slapping sound was delicious. Resting her weight on her heels, Rachel hissed, ‘Don't you ever talk to me about not caring.’ She aimed her fist once more at the nose, grimly determined to smash it to pulp. ‘The only thing that stops me from battering the life out of you is consideration for father's child.’ It was the least she could do for the poor mite.

Amy wiped her face with the hem of the smock.

Giving her mother a disgusted look, Rachel marched into the kitchen and dumped the bowl in the sink. The table was crammed with cooking implements and basins of goodies waiting to be cooked. For tonight! She eyed the clock, not at all sure what to do. Two hours to lift-off. No time for the battle she craved. No time for feuding or physical remonstration.

She sank onto a chair. There was so much to do, apart from knocking senseless the quivering cocksucker on the couch next door. Idly, she fingered the broad blade of the chef's knife. Dinner would be delayed if she didn't get rid of Amy soon. Her visitors would arrive and she would have to introduce the dishevelled woman as her mother. It would be too cruel. Unwittingly, Rachel combed her fingers through her hair, sweeping it over her head until it was in complete disarray.

Rachel twisted round.

‘Little wonder Gary fancied me instead of you.’

Rachel's world plummeted.

Amy grinned maliciously. Her bloody smock hung crooked, making the protrusion seem unbalanced. ‘He used to tell me how obsessed you were with your father.’

Loathing rose like bile. Astonishment, too. Rachel had no idea what Amy was gabbing about.

‘I told him about the times you ran to him instead of me when you were in trouble.’

Angrily, Rachel got to her feet. ‘Don't be so bloody brainless. Who else could I turn to? You were never there.’

‘I wonder why!’ Amy turned and walked leisurely through the living room, presumably on her way to the front door. She called over her shoulder, ‘Tell Gary he needn't think he can shirk his responsibilities.’

Shirk?

Gary?

Rachel's legs went weak. She lowered herself back on the chair and gripped the chef's knife, twisting it against the light. What charges was her mother laying at Gary's doorstep?

‘You hear me, Rachel?’

Placing the knife on the table, Rachel unhurriedly stood up. She heard next door's cat, meowing to be let in. Lucky black cat! She went into the living room and stared at her mother, seeing her gloating expression. Victorious!

Amy embraced her swelled belly with her bloodstained hands and gave Rachel a triumphant leer. ‘Do I take it you didn't realise this is Gary's child?’ She threw her head back and let out a harsh, witch-like cackle. ‘Oh, God, that's rich. She didn't know.’ She looked evilly at Rachel. ‘Your splendid husband's child is basking inside me, waiting to get out and taunt you. Your half-sister.’

The missile winged through the air, captivating Rachel by its grey-black beauty. It mesmerised her. She followed it with her eyes, calmly wondering from whence it came. Tears glistened on her cheeks. Rapidly, the knife zoomed across the room, it seemed to be journeying through distant time. Towards Amy. Equally bewitched, Amy stood, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, hugging her bastard child. The knife reached its destination. Incisively. Chillingly sharp. In slow-motion, a little startled, Amy collapsed to the floor.

(to be continued)

21 May 2012

Monday Mirth

Apologies if I've shown this video clip before



EIGHT THOUGHTS TO PONDER:

Number 8**
Life is sexually transmitted.

Number 7**
Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

Number 6**
Men have two emotions: Hungry and Horny. If you see a gleam in his eyes, make him a sandwich.

Number 5**
Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach a person to use the Internet and they won't bother you for weeks, months, maybe years.

Number 4**
Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in the hospitals, dying of nothing.

Number 3**
All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.


Number 2**
In the 60's, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.

And The Number 1 Thought
Life is like a jar of Jalapeno peppers. What you do today, might burn your ass tomorrow.

- - - and as someone recently said to me:

"Don't worry about old age--it doesn't last that long."*

20 May 2012

19 May 2012

Saturday Special

This video of Serene Sorrento makes me long to be back in Italy, enjoying the warm climate and the friendliness of the Italian people. It was my favourite holiday place and the one that formed the basis of many of my stories.



18 May 2012

Friday Favourites


I like the spaciousness of this picture with a hint of activity on the right

17 May 2012

The Bluebell Woods (repeat)

Since the bluebells are now out in force I thought it was an appropriate time to show this short story again


 The Bluebell Woods

Picking bluebells is the reason I’m here in the woods. The sun is hot for the time of year but very welcome. The birds are twittering all around but they’re too high up for me to identify. I really should have learned the different birdsongs. It wasn’t as if I hadn’t had the opportunity. I’d spent five years walking my retriever across fields and through the forest, watching him dive-bomb the bushes looking for rabbits or wading into streams looking for fish. I’m sure he knew every blade of grass; I could have learned the birdsongs while he did that if I hadn’t been so lazy.

Bluebells were Dad’s favourite wild flower and each anniversary of his death I took a bunch of them to his grave. I remember him joking about it on his sick bed, saying he wanted to die at the right time so they could be placed on his coffin. So you can understand why I just have to do it.

Dad always maintained he hated weeds yet when I reminded him that bluebells were weeds and that he’d never planted one in his life he argued, saying bluebells were not weeds. Weeds, he retorted, were simply flowers that nobody wants.  Naturally I had a go back but it was really only in fun.

‘Don’t argue with your father, Susan,’ Mom had said, as if I was a five year old. She could never take our baiting as a joke thing. If I was to take situations seriously at that awful time I would have sobbed all over Dad’s clean sheets.

Emphysema was an ugly disease. And heartbreaking. Dad tried very hard to keep a smile in place but you could see how hard it was.  He’d suffered for a long time and towards the end he hadn’t the strength to get out of bed. Dennis and I went to see him as often as we could although it was quite hard for my better half to see a once hearty man so frail.

There was a lot to think about as I walked along the rough path, through the forest of tall trees to the little glade where the bluebells would be widespread. I stepped over the tiny bubbling stream that meandered through the woods that led to the lake. I’d been coming here for ten years now, ten years since Dad died. That was when my sun had gone in.

Why him? That was the question I often asked. And why me? What did I do to warrant losing my very best friend. Oh what memories that statement evokes! Happy days, happy years! We only ever fell out once and that was so awful we vowed we’d never argue over differences again.  If it wasn’t for him, though, I’d have left home years before I actually did.

Marriage took me away. Marriage to a man so like my Dad in many ways. Dennis was the one who discovered the bluebells in the wood. He had an eye for flora and fauna, had Dennis. Just like my Dad. Mom couldn’t stand Dennis, but then I don’t think she understood any man. She thought he was toffee-nosed and probably too good for me. How’s that for faith in your daughter’s choice? She had a grumble every time we popped in to see them. My Dad often told her to lighten up, after which she’d go into a lengthy sulk which entailed not speaking to any of us for months.

It wasn’t until Dad died that I discovered she was ill herself. She’d been suffering silently, cancer ridden and determined to hide it for as long as she could. No wonder she was miserable. It took Dad’s demise to make me realise her motive. 

I don’t put bluebells on Mom’s grave. She gets the red roses that Dad planted in my garden. I remember the first flowering very well. Strangely enough it wasn’t long after the bluebells finished. Dad was doing a bit of weeding. ‘Got to take care of the roses,’ he said, ‘one day they’ll be needed for more than just a pretty scene.’ It was then he told me that Mom’s favourite flower was the rose. I never knew that. It’s amazing what we don’t know about our parents. Anyway, it transpired that when he proposed to Mom he’d given her a single red rose, wrapped by the florist and adorned with a huge red ribbon. It was St Valentine’s Day. How fabulous is that? I’d never have put either of them down as being romantic.

My basket is full of bluebells and some cones from last year’s droppings. I have a flask of water ready for when I place the flowers in the urn and there’s a prayer for my Dad playing in my mind. Ten years! In a couple of months I’ll be cutting roses for my Mom. I do hope she isn’t plaguing Dad too much in their own private heaven.