Wednesday, August 20, 2008
"The past is strapped to our backs. We do not have to see it; we can always feel it."
Mater is a steady source of inspiration. In requesting sparks of writing ideas from my mother I have found her to be constantly unfolding new items; even if they are not quite on the same train of thought as I had planned then her advice sets me onto another, equally hopeful track.
She mused on a story I know well but had long since neglected to think of: years ago a cousin of mine was cycling with her young son near their home.
They sailed over the brow of the hill- I must stop for a reminiscence: what a hill. I can clearly see the spread of patchwork fields, the faint outline of a distant farmhouse down in the valley, the unkempt mass of thorns and brambles that brushed the mother and son's shoulders as the two wheeled idly over that well-worn and narrow road with its caterpillar of grass rising up through the middle.
The son, who might have been eight at the time, was leading. He suddenly turned his head into the wind to ensure that his mother was still there. He shouted, in a most spontaneous moment, that his mother, at a certain angle and with the right shade of dusk upon her, looked just like yours truly. I had long been said to bear a resemblance to my cousin but it was a sudden and fleeting glimpse that the child caught.
I was not there; I heard tell of it soon afterward, and of my cousin's amazement.
I know the tale well, as does Mater who a short time ago related it to me.
"Do you remember," she said, "we were all walking, and he shouted that she looked like you?"
"Were you there?" I asked with some skepticism.
"I was there! We were walking. You were there too!"
"Nobody was walking," said I. "They were on bicycles, and they were alone."
"No," insisted my mother slowly, "I was there."
After a short pause, she added, "or was I? You know, maybe I wasn't!"
One has to love a story that coasts merrily along through the mists of time without losing its colour, a story that one hears so often and so well they might as well have been there.
Posted by Phyllis Hunt McGowan at 7:03 AM