What would a visit to the past be like without actual people being a part of it?
I was just lying down for a nap on my bed at The Anchor around five or so, when there came a knock on my door. And there was Ann, my gadabout friend from my Walberswick childhood, 40+ years later!
We eyed each other in a friendly manner, eager to get to the root of each other and erase the 40+ years as quickly as possible.
“Shall we go down to the pub?” Ann said. “My husband, Tiggy’s, down there and so is my sister Rita and her husband. Perhaps you’ll remember, Tiggy?”
And as soon as I saw Tiggy, I knew him as that good-looking village scamp he once was!
We sat in the corner seat reserved for locals and Ann and Tiggy treated me to wine (The Anchor has a good selection) and fish and chips (also excellent) while we told stories on each other from the past.
Before they left, Ann made me promise I would visit her mother in the village the next day. I had planned to do this anyway. And she invited me to come and visit them on their farm in Stowmarket.
Next morning, I walked up the village green and down the little street to see Ann’s mother, Vida.
Vida was the person who would welcome me into her family fold on a Sunday after her church and insist that I be included in their special Sunday dinner–usually a roast of some kind, even if it meant her own portion was diminished. Now, living alone in her house since her husband died, she gets many visitors because she was always so kind to everyone in the village in her younger years.
The door to Vida’s house was open, the morning sun lighting the path in. Within a very few moments we were sharing stories and laughing together. And Vida, sensing I think that I like literature, told me about how her mother had not had an easy time of it and had not been able to give her a lot of attention when she was growing up, but that her mother had written her a poem for her thirteen birthday, which meant a lot to her. At eighty-nine Vida proceeded to recite the poem by heart with beautiful diction in the most heartfelt proud manner:
We may write our names in albums
We may trace them on the suns
We may chisel them in marble
With a firm and skillful hand.
But the pages soon are sullied
Soon each page will fade away
Every monument will crumble
Like all earthly hope decay.
But my child, there is an album full of leaves of snowy white
Where no other name is tarnished
But for ever pure and bright.
And in this book of life, God’s album
May your name be penned with care
And may all who herein may write how their names forever there.