Roots And Twigs

Ida and Dennis at West Bay

I just wanted to listen to the wind and the fat trunked ash.
The branches, leafless all spring, all summer; in autumn there is nothing to drop but weathered wood.
A tree surgeon is booked. A gap in the skyline is coming.
Ivy shimmies on the bare shoulders of our old giant. It stands where it has always stood, where once it was supple in the breezes that fly the length of this river valley. Solid seeming, patterned skeletal, neural, calmly falling to pieces.

Seasons turn. Change comes. Unplanted, we make our paths through obstacles, and according to which view we seek. The roots of people are moveable, nourished by dreams.
8th September 1925, Burnley, Lancashire: a girl is born, a first child. Her name is Ida.
Four more children follow her into this family. Through the 1930s where work and food are scare, she looks after this brood while her parents look for work. Things are shoeless, hungry. Two of her sisters take ill: they die.
1939: war brings opportunity. Ida joins the Women’s Land Army and is posted to Fairfield House in Honiton, Devon. She learns to drive a tractor. She loves this rural life. She swears to be back.
1947, Burnley: Industrial Lancashire is brightened in love. Ida marries Maurice.
They run a bakery, then a draper’s shop. Ida has an eye for a good property. They move a lot. They bring with them their daughter. Maurice is an engineer. They move house more and more and now have two sons. An opportunity arises to move to Devon. Maurice builds the petrol station there, in Uplyme.
1963, Uplyme, Devon. Ida is 38 and widowed. Cancer takes Maurice away.
(So I don’t get to meet my grandfather at all. I get born in 1970, and my parents follow the rural idyll too. We all move to Cornwall. This dream is linked.)
I am never permitted to call Dennis my granddad, but he is my granddad. Him and Ida meet at a dance in Uplyme Village Hall. They move in together, settle eventually in West Bay.
A combination of Barley Wine and Alzheimer’s makes for some interesting years.
My famous, pub fighter Gran! Later, the maddest woman in all of England still living in her own house. Always, my poor mother.
Dennis passes first. Swiftly, into the night.
But twilight comes for Ida too, a gentler disintegration. Anger is lost, and although language and acuity go with it, a happiness is found. She is a child without responsibility. She sees the sky, the flowers, the seasons flow through the tree line.
She leaves this life of 90 years, closed in a tiny box.
My memento mori includes a stuffed red squirrel and a gold tea set.
The sense to listen to trees.
The grit to keep making my path.

My parents, my little brother, my uncles, me,  and my Gran


Oh this is a powerful written piece.Oh you are such a great writer. Thank you for sharing this. I think I would have liked Ida she sounds like my Grandmother. B
Geo. said…
Thank you for writing and posting this beautiful piece. It's something special that reaches me at a special time. Please accept my condolences on your recent loss.
Lisa Southard said…
Geo. You are special - thank you for your care xx

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