It was a walk we often took: a quintessential summer childhood experience, a journey deeper than the few miles we’d cover down the winding pathways and through the woods. Him, frailer every time, stopping every few metres to point something out (catch his breath); me, sprightly, jumping, bounding, all energy, willing him on, to move faster, quicker, wanting to get to the pub half-way, for a lemonade and some crisps. Skylarks calling in the distance, rabbits shooting out in front of us, a splash flash of blue, orange, red as the butterflies whizz in front of us. Rapeseed flowering both sides of us, a riotous sea of yellow (he’d ride the bus between our two villages just to see that sea some days). We’d reach the woods, the little bridge over the bubbling river, and we’d play Pooh sticks; the joy I’d feel, bending for two sticks, helping him join in. It’s humbling to think how much of an effort he must have taken to do these walks, his 80-year old frame covering the few miles slowly but surely, each mile revealing new truths, advice, help, from deep in his wisdom bank. Those few miles, travelled often, each time deeply enjoyed, a beloved Grandad and his Granddaughter, speaking, laughing, silent, deeply silent. Learning from him, mostly by osmosis, by quiet observation of him and his ways, his patient knowing ways. She travels back in time now, remembering fragments of those walks, the memories coming back so strongly she feels the wind on her face, she hears those skylarks calling. Feeling the ache of his absence all over again. If only we could turn back time. I’d give anything to travel back for even one minute of those precious walks, to see him stood there, propped up on his stick, surveying the landscape, his blue eyes registering everything. I wouldn’t speak, I’d just watch and listen. I’d listen a whole lot deeper.
Hello Memory Lane