An odd awakening

The first hints of sunrise were just appearing this morning, accompanied by the squabbling of gulls who were busy dive-bombing an unfortunate owl who had missed whatever cue serves to send owls back to the roost before the gulls wake, and, since sleep had eluded me entirely, I decided to crawl out of bed. In the process I realised, completely randomly, that I couldn’t, for the life of me, remember what colour my grandmother’s eyes were.

It’s hardly surprising, as she died when I was eleven. It’s odd really, I’m not even sure I ever “knew”; so to say that I have forgotten is strange enough, to begin with. No matter how hard I wracked my brain, there was no way I could place a colour, despite the keen memory of the brightness in those eyes, the well defined, pure white mop of curly hair, and the ever present floral patterned pinafores.

Smell? Easy. Lavender, rosemary and pears; with the ever-present undertones of flour, yeast, and pine resin with oaky hints – the latter emanating from the golden labrador who spent most of her time ensconced at the sawmill which my grandfather operated. Beeswax on a Friday, Brasso on a Monday. Perhaps smell imprints the memory more readily than colour?

Yet, I can clearly remember her favourite book (The Picture of Dorian Gray), her favourite holiday destination (Ireland – specifically a bus trip with her sister, Elsie, to the Giant’s Causeway), her frustration with the neighbours (a holiday home, which she cleaned between visitors, and an incident involving the doctor coming to the house to let her know the garage door had been left open by the previous guest – the son of the owner, an RAF pilot, happened to fly over, notice the open door, called his parents, who in turn called the local GP, as he was the only one in the village with a phone!), her habit of carrying a fork in her handbag (in case we stop for fish and chips anywhere), her love of Canasta (a card game with ridiculously complex scoring strategies), that she only smoked two cigarettes a day (taken as four “halfs”, lit by four matches which she placed in readiness each morning in the tusk sockets of two bronze elephants which held pride of place above the fireplace), how she fed the stockman lunch and dinner (though we never knew where the stockman actually lived, till he got married and the estate built him a house), she never drove, had a hat for every occassion, billeted a Polish soldier during the war, had no time for idle gossip (yet knew everything about everybody), and a whole other paragraph and a half of incidental data…

There is no point, either, in dragging out the albums. There isn’t a single colour photograph of her in existence! Well, there is… just the one, that I know of, but she is too far away in it to be able to confirm what colour her eyes might be.

Why can’t I remember the colour of her eyes; and why, today of all days, should it matter? I haven’t really thought about her, other than in passing, for years…

The only thing that might have set it off was the completion of a (terrible) tome on the importance of ancestral knowledge; one of the “to read someday” pile, which has been diminishing since lockdown… most of which have revealed themselves “don’t bother with these”, and the pile has been renamed accordingly.

It would be ironic, after all this, if they matched her maiden name: Brown…

The “Broons”
Sometime between 1922-1925

About A Misanthropic Bear

Intermittent posting of random touchstones, memories and events. This wasn't meant to be what it would become... But then, is it ever?
This entry was posted in Early stirrings, Mysteries and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to An odd awakening

  1. kirizar says:

    I think I would have liked your grandmother very much. She reminds me of mine and you have triggered several memories by your retelling. My grandmother did not smoke–that I know of–but she has quirky ways that made her unique. A love of reading biographies that I, sadly, did not inherit. But a love of reading and making up stories that I did. What we get from our grandmothers (besides eye color, in my case) is a love and nostalgia for the life they showed us how to live. Perhaps you can look into a mirror and see something of your grandmother looking back. It is the legacy that matters, not the details of eye color, nor even smell. (My grandmother usually smelled of peanut butter cookies and a face lotion, I do not know the name of, but was probably a Noxema product. But I feel her spirit whenever I go on adventures or make pancakes shaped like turtles for my son. And in this way, she lives on though she’s been gone for nearly fifteen years.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. besonian says:

    The fork in the handbag is priceless! She sounds like a woman with a wonderful ability to be who she really was. And all told with such affection. Great post. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Running Elk says:

      Thanks, Besonian. Glad you enjoyed the piece. 🙂
      Certainly something to be said to be prepared for all eventualities… but the fork in the handbag seems to have been going the extra mile! 😀 xx


  3. Pingback: An odd awakening ~ Running Elk | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

  4. Jane Sturgeon says:

    You have written the colour of love. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Despite not being able to recall the color of her eyes, you’ve put together a string of lovely memories of your grandmother. I really enjoyed this 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. gmvasey says:

    Lovely!. My Grandmother’s maiden name – Brown!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Steve Tanham says:

    Human, warm and wonderful…

    Liked by 1 person

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