Monday, April 12, 2010

Before kids....when we were different people!

Snarl. Every single one of my sweetpea seedlings is GONE. Eaten. And no sign of the culprit. I am less than happy. AND they were in the greenhouse too. Just so you know. This is not a good start to anyone's day. Sweetpeas are vital to my health and happiness. And yes, that is a little over the top, but I GREW them. More snarling.

Jean and I were chatting about this, that and the next thing over coffee this morning, and the subject matter turned to the things we did before kids. BK. And we laughed till we nearly cried. There was her story about working in Nepal, riding on the back of a motorbike sidesaddle (skirts, you know) holding an umbrella, and my story of learning to "drive" a huge ship (ammunition carrier) up the English Channel. And the best thing is that our kids don't know much about the people we were BK. And they would be a little surprised or amazed by some of the things we could tell them. Once we got started, the stories triggered more memories, and the laughter grew. Ah, this is one of the rewards for getting older.

She has a copy of all the letters she sent her parents from Nepal. Bless her, her Mum typed them all out. I suggested that she scan in her photos and make it into a book on Blurb or one of the other book people. The great thing is that one of her sons is a graphic artist, and I am sure he could do pen sketches of his mother holding that umbrella. Hysterical. It is unique, and so special, and maybe our kids would see us in a totally different light if they knew a little more about us as people, and not just mothers. More specifically, their mothers. The things we were doing at similar ages.

I know that I knew quite a bit about my Dad when he was young, but didn't see many photos of him as a child, and I always had this image of him looking exactly as he did as an adult, complete with moustache, but just with very short legs. Where I got that image from I do not know. Odd. Very odd, and of course he didn't look anything like that at all. His youth was fairly well documented through newspaper cuttings, as he was a national athlete. But I don't know much about who he really was, and what he thought, or the funny things which happened in his life. There are always funny things somewhere. Or amazing things. Or even sad things.

I know more about my mother though, because she has written down a great deal. But again, when we write, we all self-edit, and so we can lose a lot of what we really felt. And thankfully, Mum is still here, so I can ask her.

But my story - well, it is nothing fancy or stupendous, but there are things which happened which were important to me, and things which were seemingly unimportant at the time, which have had great bearing on the rest of my life too. There were crises of conscience, decisions to follow confrontational paths, and daring to stand up or out. In or from the crowd. And when I look back, I remember that I was only 21 when I got married. Not many weeks older than David. And all those things had happened already. How different things were back then. My parents must have been tearing their hair out by the roots. I was a bit of a challenge.

And when I got married, again, my life followed totally different patterns to anyone else I knew at the time. Or now, for that matter. I travelled at sea with Geoff when I could, while we lived in England, and before I had Andrew. But I know very little about Geoff growing up. Yes, I know the important bits - growing up in post-war Britain, chickens, playing on bomb sites, no toys, air raids. But I don't know about his childhood friends, and what they got up to. Or much about his school days, other than that he went to a grammar school (the bright kids all went to grammar schools in those days). I know, for instance, that once upon a time, he was offered some land on a beachfront. He turned it down because it "was too far away from anywhere". The Seychelles. Now that was not one of his finer financial moments, people. I could do with a stretch of beachfront in the Seychelles. How nice.

But it is time to sift through those memories before I manage to forget the lot, and write them down for my kids. Maybe I will surprise them. Their Mum is and was a real live person, you know.


Vee said...

Oh yes! Do it!

(From time to time, this one or that one will suggest that I ask my nan things about her life, but the ship has already sailed, though she did tell me a fascinating new story about being at the fire station when a call came in. The horses left their stalls on their own and moved into position under their harnesses, which dropped down automatically before they were finally harnessed in. The doors opened automatically, too. Wonder how they did all that back in 1913. Anway, perhaps I need to turn my attention to my mother's story. I remember her telling about WWII ending. She was out on a bike ride when the church bells began to peal. She tells of standing up on her pedals and sailing with great joy over every street in her small town with the ringing of the bells in her ears. OOps, I didn't mean to write a book here.)

I want to read your book someday, Linds. I do! And Jean's as well!

Dawn said...

The Saychelles!! Oh, my goodness. I have heard such lovely things about that place! Too bad!!

Thanks for sharing this - keep it up. I know what you mean - I find myself telling the grand girls things all the time, and don't know if I ever told their mother. That's why I'm enjoying going through my mom's photos and writing memories.

I wish I had written down the things my grandma used to say when I visited her - I wasn't that interested in those teen years. Sad.