Monday, 3 December 2007
A Moment in Time
In the photo in front of me is a striking young woman with a flawless complexion, dark naturally curly hair piled high on her head and large limpid eyes that seem to look deep into your soul. She is wearing a lace blouse with high collar and brooch. She was my paternal grandmother whom I never met and who was never spoken about by my father. My face is of similar shape to hers. She looks kind and gentle.
Like a jig-saw puzzle, the family tree that has been constructed by daughter number three last year has put a name and dates to this photograph. Her name was Maud. She married my grandfather in 1909 at the age of twenty. They had two daughters and later, when aged 37 she gave birth to my father but sadly, died when he was just seven.
The only time my father spoke about his mother was to describe how desolate his life was when she died and that his father sat him on a stone bridge in South Wales; his legs were dangling over the side as his father gripped him hard while crying and saying 'sorry son'. My father knew he was about to be thrown over and into the torrent of fast flowing water below. He could still remember the feeling of absolute terror as he told me this story. Then, along the path, a woman was walking towards them. She began speaking to them, and my father was lifted off the bridge and away from what was to be his early death. Her name was Gladys and she became my grandmother whom I loved deeply.
When my father told me the story many, many years' ago, I could not understand why anyone would want to kill their own son and themselves. Now, having lost someone I loved more than anything in the world, I am there, in my grandfather's head and heart, feeling the desolation and loss intensely, knowing exactly why he stood on the bridge.