Saturday 4 August 2012
That afternoon, I go to cousin Naomi’s house, to do a bit of tree-surgery. Afterwards, we have a long chat and she shows me some old family photos.
In World War Two, Naomi’s father (Edgar) was a Chindit. He lived to be 77. His wife (Naomi’s mother Evelina) who was about sixteen months older than her husband, lived to be 87. In his younger days, Edgar was a keen cyclist.
Edgar had two brothers, one of whom died young. The other brother, Isaac, was younger than Edgar, but quite a bit taller. His wife was called Denise. Isaac eventually developed dementia. The last time that Naomi saw him, he had walked across the fields from the care-home where he was living, to Edgar and Evelina’s house, and had knocked on the living-room window instead of on the front door. (He was allowed out of the care-home, as his dementia was not yet severe.)
Two of the photos that Naomi shows me are of the wedding of the Old Man and the Deceased Lady in 1949. The identity of one of the bridesmaids has puzzled me for some while. I have been hoping that Naomi will be able to identify her — but she can’t. That bridesmaid must have been born around 1943. Perhaps she wasn’t a member of our family, but was related to the Deceased Lady’s best friend Miss OA.
The old photos of Naomi are perhaps the most interesting of all: two of her as a toddler, in one of which she looks delighted as only a toddler can; one of her with her mother, on holiday in 1960; her as a teenager and young adult; with the passing of the years, the adult Naomi looks less happy, and sometimes a little strange; then there are no further photographs.
Naomi reminds me about Ruth, a member of the family a few generations ago, whom no-one ever talked about. She was in service, and somehow (pregnancy?) disgraced her family.
Naomi also reminds me that another member of the family, LF, was a professional footballer with Peakville Rovers prior to World War Two.
Naomi’s TV set is playing up: it is producing sound, but no picture. The guarantee has just expired.
Before leaving Naomi’s house, I unlock and open the door of the garden shed. (Naomi can unlock and open that door, but she never does so because she cannot re-lock it — the door-lock and the padlock require more finger-strength than she can muster.) The lawns need mowing, and Naomi isn’t sure (!) whether she has a lawnmower. It turns out that there are two electric lawnmowers side-by-side in the shed, but to judge by the dust that blankets them, no-one has laid a finger on either of them for the past ten years. Someone must have been mowing Naomi’s lawns for her, because the grass is only as high as you might expect at the end of the winter.
[Original posting 4 August 2013]