Digging up the past   

by Deirdre Lynch

Such ordinary things make people remember... a yellowing photograph, a scented rose (scented with an aura of romance), a love letter long made eligible by the passage of time. There's no doubt such ordinary things can unleash a torrent of memories. Good there be a more rewarding pastime than digging up the past, reliving a kaleidoscope of events?

As I here, in your room now, both jostled and confronted by memories, the minor up is and downs always stand out in the "moonlight of memory" - that fateful time when I used your favourite 'Prince' T-shirt as a duster, or when you got so annoyed with me for evicting "your family of pet frogs which you had stored under the bed. Yes, there's no doubt we had our disagreements but we learned to compromise, though it wasn't always easy.

When you were young it was difficult, but as you grew older your attitude towards me altered. When your pals arrived, the kitchen was strictly out of bounds for me. It was decidedly 'uncool' for me to be seen in the vicinity of the area except perhaps to place some edibles at convenience!

Your entrance into the world of adolescence resulted in the gradual metamorphosis in most sectors of your life. Your questions grew more mature and needed more deliberations and complexity in answering. Your scorn at my lacked off knowledge on such subjects as music presented a crisis of paramount in importance. It was expected of me to recognise the opening bars of almost every U2 song. Severe disgust was manifest when I failed to do so. At times, I felt like a noble geriatric!

As times passed, the anatomy of the motorbike dominated your waking hours. You began to frequent the town's new coffee bar where girls sipped frothy coffee and the boys posed beside the jukebox . I could imagine you there with your best pair of Levi's and biker jacket, trying in vain to keep your brown hair in place. Although it heavily gelled cover it continued to fall exasperatingly into your face. I could see you soft-shoeing your way across the room, clicking your fingers to the beat of the music, trying at all costs to remain calm and unruffled although the constant drumming of your fingertips against the counter betrayed your hidden fears and insecurities.

I waited lonely evenings at home, listening for the sound of an approaching car that might herald your arrival, and feeling absurdity disappointed when my expectations remained fruitless. I wandered if there were others, like me, who went to bed, burdened with the weight of nervous anticipation or a heavy despair born of detection. Oblivious to these foolish emotions, you were determined to forge new frontiers. Your bedroom walls are now covered with numerous photographs - a proud you, being carried high by your team-mates; a grinning you, holding that a gleaming trophy safely in your arms. You never gave a backward glance after that. I remember so well the day that you left for college. It was at this time of year because I remember the Autumn leaves of red and gold drifting by my window and the lengthening of the evenings in a strangely silent house. Without qualms, you packed your bags, eager to embrace the opportunities that you were confident life would present to you.

Its funny, I always wanted you to go, but now I feel a conflicting regret for yesterday… the time you tried to wear your father's tie, or when you buried your pet canary and wanted to know all about heaven. I remember your first gun and holster strapped to your waist, disproportionately large and the first smudged Mother's Day card with the bunch of dried-out violets. Such banal things but with such importance to those who treasure them.

As I close the door, I take a last glance at that grinning sun-tanned face and, suddenly, I am transported to a time spiced with tales of sporting achievements, muddy sneakers, well-fingered card collections. Upon closing the door, a last golden shaft of evening sunlight falls on the russet carpet. The door swings silently shut.

The silent contemplation of the past is a habit, or indeed a hobby, of men, faced with the uncertainties of an often menacing future!

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