200 word memoir. Keyword ‘family.’
ENTRY 1 – A Bad Businessman. 200 words.
Since we grew up living away from our extended family we were fortunate to be adopted by elderly neighbours who became known to us as Ma and Pa.
Fortunate because this cultured couple who never seemed bothered by the racket of six noisy children next-door, brought into our lives art, music, gardening and…meat!
Pa was a butcher and owned his own business. The first week we moved into the house beside them, Ma called over the fence to my mother, holding out a parcel wrapped in butcher’s paper.
‘Would you mind taking this off my hands, dear? Pa has brought home much more than we can use.’
‘This’ was a mass of chops, strings of sausages and at least a pound of casserole steak!
As the years went by our adopted grandparents shared our triumphs and heartaches, were adored as if they really were family and kept passing parcels of ‘too much meat’ over the fence.
One day I watched Mum unwrap yet another bundle of chops and steak.
‘Pa’s a darling but he can’t be a very good businessman.’
Mum smiled. ‘In all these years he hasn’t figured out how much meat he and Ma can eat.’
ENTRY 2 – Little Claim. 199 words.
In time Williams was there first and longer for my sister than I but when I came into this world he loved me too. Before I could remember he gave me a handmade silver charm bracelet from The Sudan. A Sudanese charm bracelet has trinkets of all the essential items needed for the Sudanese way of life such as an umbrella, a basket and saucepan. Later on he gave my sister and I little perfume bottles bought from a duty free airport Perfumery. I saved my bottle. Even when the glass lid crumbled I wrapped all the broken pieces up in plastic and saved them too. When I was just two his foreboding dark shadow caught me using his gum-boot as a potty. Looking back I guess he had frustrations on his mind. Together, with mum, we all spent some family time in the French Alps. I can remember our train carriage travelling through lots of blank white. Many years later when I was very sad he recalled how I fell out of the bath, whilst at the Alps, and bit my lip and said ‘it’s sore’. Williams had remembered me with my first words for pain.
ENTRY 3 – Swimming Lessons. 200 words.
In the small country town where I grew up in the 1950’s, swimming lessons took place in the local river. It was the focal point for the children; the town offered few amusements other than those we created ourselves. Our family lived close to the river, so we found it easy to run down to the water on hot summer days. The swimming hole was near the bridge– we’d wave madly as the cars drove past. When my time came for lessons, I was taught by my older brother. He’d swim across the river while I held on to him, trying to kick. Sometimes I was pulled along on a rubber tyre, learning to paddle, desperately hanging on, for the river seemed deep and wide. I was fearful of things that moved in the water– slimy stuff that brushed my legs, hidden branches and mud that threatened to suck me down into the depths. But I’d cling on until we reached the other side, grab the rope hanging from the tree, and we’d swim back again. Gradually I let go of my brother, learnt to swim on my own, and little by little, gained a sense of resilience and independence.
ENTRY 4 – You Were My Rock. 198 words.
You were my rock. My back. You were there to keep me straight on track. My inner glowed because you were my mother. You taught me how to do everything. You loved me till the earth stopped spinning. Thanks to you, I have confidence to do anything in crafts, painting, sewing and cooking. You were my family. You taught me as your mother; my favourite grandmother, taught you. I savour the time we shared, allowing me to know who I was. Even knowing our togetherness started out on different paths; we were united. You rang me every day. We shared the love of conversation, movies. The love of reading. ‘I miss you’. I missed you when the conversation stopped. When you became confused, and didn’t know where anything was. I didn’t understand what was happening at first. But one day the enemy revealed itself; Alzheimer’s had joined us. Taking over your life, taking away my mother. Changing you with such speed between my visits. ‘I lost you’. My strong family memories remain with me. Everything changed; the little things were gone. The cuddles, your smiles and laughter. Today your love still warms me, and I truly miss you.
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