Thursday, 10 July 2014

On mementos

They arrived yesterday: two ceremonial knives, an Eqyptian short sword and a Turkish dagger, brought to me by my father. Decorative pieces, blunt as butter knives but pretty nice as decorations go. They used to belong to my grandmother, gifts from my grandfather on a couple of their foreign holidays in the 1960s (my grandparents got in on the package holiday thing early, usually ditching the package tour to find their own way as soon as they could).

My grandmother died recently and my father gave me the knives because he remembered how I'd liked them when I was a kid. My grandmother had a huge hand in raising me, though I never knew my grandfather who died of stomach cancer a few years before I was born. I grew up with his boomerang hanging over my bed, a good luck charm and a sort of talisman in times of trouble.

It was a real one too, not tourist shop tat but the genuine article given to him by an aboriginal friend he made when he was working over there. A deadly weapon, technically speaking, if not for the fact he'd ruined the aerodynamics by drilling two holes in it to fit a chain so it would hang on a wall.

And now they're both gone and I have these mementos so whenever I see his boomerang or the swords hanging on my wall I can think of them and remember. I can remember the grandmother who sat with me after school when my parents had to work and the stories she told me of the husband she loved, the man who gave up a modest fortune in family money to marry an unsuitable “foreign looking” girl and who took her on adventures all over the world. I can remember the woman who spent a great deal of the Second World War quietly pairing up gay servicemen in blatant defiance of the law, who encouraged me in my love of science fiction and reading and quietly almost silently, taught me the moral lessons that made me the man I am today.

I did get to tell her that. She never believed me, never realised how big an influence she was on me but I did let her know and even though I wasn't there to say goodbye at the end, separated by geography, I know she knew how special she was to me.

I take that comfort and I make it part of the memories I keep in the swords. 


SallyP said...

I'm sorry to hear about your Grandmother's death...but still a very sweet story. Your Grandparents sound pretty amazing.

James Ashelford said...

Thank you. And they were, genuinely.