Wednesday, 27 June 2007

History repeats itself

History often repeats itself, so they say. Well, whether you believe that or not, I am guilty of hankering after the times of my life when, as a child, I felt more secure. When I didn’t need to make grown up decisions, earn money, do housework and basically just be responsible. And so, I find myself repeating history in my home as I have unconsciously recreated aspects of my Nan’s old house and way of life.

I loved staying at Nan’s house and getting into cool, crisp, line-dried cotton sheets, in traditionally made beds of blankets, Durham quilts and eiderdowns, all smelling of lavender. I loved making toast on the open fire and helping to hang the washing to air on the Sheila Maid. The huge Belfast sink was a feature under the window and used for everything from scrubbing home-grown veggies, soaking white washing or bathing us as kids.

I have drawn the line at the 1970’s floral wallpaper which Nan put up in an attempt to modernize, and have kept to my beloved Farrow & Ball paint, but I did put in an original, overhead toilet cistern and, yes, it is as difficult to pull as my Nan’s was! Oh, and my bathroom is now upstairs and not the chilly replica of Nan’s that made you dash up the stairs with your towel wrapped tight around you.

But those times were amazing. The memories still bring a smile to my face. I remember the old apple tree that I used to climb and peep at the world through the pink blossom. Perched high up on a branch that had formed a natural child-sized seat, I would be a flower fairy, and chat away to my invisible friends. Mum and Nan would have to pretend to “eat” the delicious pies I made in the sandpit, or the boiled potatoes (stones) and vegetables (privet leaves). Their patience was unending and because of them I had the most magical of childhoods. A time of fairies, make-believe, love and laughter in a small little cottage this is indelibly marked on my heart.

At the foot of the lavender edged path was a concrete slab with a dog footprint embedded forever. Rex – Nan’s Heinz57 dog that used to jump on the number 11 outer circle bus, go around the route and jump off at the right stop for home. All the drivers knew him and he would sit upstairs with his paws on the ledge, looking out the window. Mum was still a girl then, so I never knew him, but I would lay lavender flowers in his paw print every week.

I have my own lavender hedge now and my apple trees are probably the same size as Nan’s but, of course, seemed so much bigger to a child. At pruning time, I climb through the centre of the trees and get as high as I can, and for a moment am transported back to those nostalgic times. And I also have my own weeping willow tree – a present from mum and dad for my birthday three years ago, but it is not quite big enough for me to sit cross-legged within and hide from the world.

When my nephew and niece come to stay, they do all the things in our garden that I used to in Nan’s, except they also get to collect eggs from the hens. Mum will bring them over to run riot and give dad some peace and quiet, and we will sit and chat over a cuppa. She always says that Nan would have loved our cottage; that she would have felt right at home and proud that she had inspired the “feel” of our eclectic home. She feels Nan has brought us two closer together now that she is not here, and that mum and I are doing the things that used to be in Nan’s domain.

It’s funny; I miss her now more than ever. She lived to see me married to Jimmy and I know she was ready to leave us. She was frail, tired and worn out. That was only 8 years ago next month but now I feel that, if she were still here, our relationship would have undergone a revival. Not that we were estranged, but I was excited and embarking on a new life miles away from her, down in Kent, and was busy forging ahead with our plans. But now, life has eased to the warm and comfortable pace we plod along at; we have found the place of our dreams and are happy to tweak and prune it to fit our needs. This is the time that she would have been coming to stay with us and kneeling side by side with me in the garden; teaching me and answering all the questions that only she could answer. But she is not here and I find myself talking out loud to her as I wander around the house and garden, making plans or marveling at a beautiful flower.

I read other blogs written by people “in tune” – Crystal especially, and wish I could “feel” Nan’s presence next to me like they do. I went to a highly recommended medium, years ago when my first marriage broke up (how many of us do that!?) and she was so amazingly accurate about so many things. She correctly told me that the “gift” was in my family (Nan had it, and her aunt before her) and that it was strong in me. She said that I wasn’t ready to take it on yet but when I was, it would come. That was 13 years ago and I am still waiting for some kind of sign or intuition. Anything. Maybe it’s because I have always been a little afraid of the “unknown”. Equally excited at the prospect but fearful and squeezing my eyes shut at the same time.

I used to have a regular, recurring dream about an old man in a flat cap stood at the bottom of my bed. He didn’t frighten me in as much as I felt he was going to hurt me, but it was disconcerting to dream I was awake and be looking at myself in bed with him stood watching me. On several occasions, I have woken myself up as I have nearly fallen out of bed, stretching my arm out to touch this man, as if to convince myself he isn’t there. I don’t recognize him – I don’t think I have ever met anyone remotely resembling him – and the dream is not linked to a place. I have dreamed the same dream in my last 3 homes. It hasn’t happened for a while now and I can’t see a particular pattern, although it did happen more frequently when my first marriage broke up. Stress? Very probably, but it has also happened when I haven’t been stressed.

I have no answers but as I have got older, the questions seem less important. Nan was a wise old girl and always seemed quietly in-tune and accepting of her life. A rare gift which would make the whole world a better place if more of us could achieve it.

11 comments:

annakarenin said...

Lovely to hear your memories of your Nan. My Nana lived very near us and we ate all our meals in her house and I played there a lot. Unfortunately she had a stroke when I was seven and died when I was eleven. I was always one of her favourites though because I was born the year her husband died.

Didn't think of looking for tiles on ebay even though I am a big fan. Will check it out as we are going to be doing some work on the house. Your home sounds lovely and warm.

countrymousie said...

Lovely memories.
I have some lovely ones, except the ones I wrote about today about grandfather. Thank you for your comment - I loved the "old sod" bit - I imagine that was what she thought or worse.
My mum tried to make things better for us all, but we all lived under the threat of him - it was his house we lived in, his everything really until he died.
I loved your descriptions.
Perhaps your will have the "gift" in later years.

The Country Craft Angel said...

Just left a message as caught up with your last blog.

I loved this blog abaout your Nan too. How precious those memories. She does sound a lovely, special lady.

It is interesting what you mention about the 'gift.' I also feel I miss out on something-I am such a sensitive person, yet I don't have any feelings in that department. And I never feel like I have any spirit watching over me like some people have. I feel sure that your Nan will have seen how happy you have turned out and will be watching over you.

We will have to meet Crystal next my dear? I'll drive, you navigate!!..

Can't wait to see you tomorrow.

warmest wishes
xxx

Suffolkmum said...

This was such a lovely thoughtful blog Woozle. I could relate to so much of it; I was just thinking today how I had unconsciously recreated so much of my grandparent's cottage in this house (but with 21st century conveniences!) - all I need is a grandfather clock! I also felt really emotional reading about how it would have been now if your Nan was still alive; I feel the same about my Grandma who died (my other Nana is, fortunately, still with us), and how I am now at a time in my life when I would be ready to take on what she had to teach me. I get odd flashes of 'something' now and then,; it's been happening more lately. i think the way you have planned your life and chosen your house, means you are being 'driven' either subconsciously or spiritually, however you choose to see it.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

The dream could be from a past life. It could also be a relative who has passed on who has had an unknown bearing on your life, i.e. you both have similar traits, talents, skills etc.

I talk to my dad more now, it's six years since his passing, than I did when he was with us. My Grandma also, she's been gone 17 years. I could never be frightened of the spirits. They can't harm us. They can only teach us.

You will have experienced another plane on many occasions. You need to learn how to realise it. Things will have happened to you; you will have been given reminders about things happening in your everyday life, encouragement to look in a certain place for that missing item then wondered what spurred you to look there, thoughts about people who you probably haven't thought about for a long time, only to see them within days.

I'm posting a blog tomorrow (Thursday) about an event which took place on Monday night. It happened. It was a wonderful experience and I hope it happens to you soon. If you truly want it to. Always remember, spirit will only come to you if you show true confidence in their existence. Your loved ones will never wish to alarm you or frighten you in any way.

Love Crystal xx

Faith said...

Lovely blog Woozle and reminded me of why I have so many things .... to recreate my secure childhood. Interesting reply from Crystal too. I dreamt about my father last night who died 2 years ago. He looked relaxed, tanned and happy and that was a comfort.

That was sweet you putting lavender in the doggie footprint. When I arrived at my parents home when my sister had rung to say Daddy had died, I picked 3 sprigs of lavender at the bush by the front door and put them on his pillow Lavender's that sort of plant isnt it?

UN PEU LOUFOQUE said...

I tried to post a commetn on here yesterday but alas gremlins ate it! I wanted to sy how lovely, and is it not amazing that as adults we seem to try adn recreate our childhood homes.. I suppseo that is how life is passed on like a tribal memeory from one generation to the next.

Cait O'Connor said...

I enjoyed this blog so much even though I can't identify with happy childhood memories. I do have feelings of spirits being with me though so that's a blessing.
Thanks for sharing your lovely memories.
Caitx

Posie Rosie said...

A lovely blog, it reminded me of my own 'sand pies' and 'fairy wedding blossom' childhood days!My Gran told me when I was little that she would always be with me, and that her Gran was always with her, she said she could feel her come into a room, she always felt her presence, even though she had died when my Gran was a child. Now my Gran died when I was 21 and at times I have felt really frustrated that I couldn't feel her presence, occaisionally I would have really vivid dreams, only to feel sad when I woke and realised it was a dream, so know how you feel, sort of.

LittleBrownDog said...

That was such a lovely, thoughtful piece of writing. Your Nan was obviously very special to you, and is still a part of your life today. I think our experiences of otherworldly things come to each of us differently.

muddyboots said...

grandma b had the gift. If you look carefully around the kings shoot in newent you may just see her & those other lost souls buried in her garden on the wrong side of the church yard fence!