“Their Daddy had been away a long time; I remember it well”. As Winifred recalled, she spoke with clarity, her eyes misted over then sparkled as the memories crowded in. I looked at the tall, slim, straight lady who wore her ninety years behind a mask of order and discipline; I was surprised at her gentle voice.
We sat at the table with a tray of tea pouring paraphernalia between us. “I would like to hear” I said, as I played Mother with my Mother in law across the damask cloth.
“After his accident it took two years one to recover his health; it was a very bleak time, then another to rehabilitate. We had to fly him home a closer unit was required to… acclimatise”. Stopping to gaze thoughtfully she smiled. “We were made of stronger stuff then. Howard had one leg amputated at the thigh the other was so damaged it was a useless limb full of pain and infection”. She shook her head and tutted.
“They had fitted a tin leg with leather straps which he was trying to use; but it was not easy. Roehampton took him in, they decided he would be bought home one weekend in two as a precursor to returning permanently.” Occasionally she would drift off as if visualising his face. “Our boys were five, they couldn’t remember not really”. Winifred shook her head.
“The day had arrived the boys knew Daddy was coming and I had explained the best one could. It was four o’clock, I recall having just laid the table for tea when the clanging began in fury. They rushed to the window, jostling for space with me close behind. The lights were flashing and that dreadful racket ringing out. Howard had arranged it for them you see, with the driver”. She collected the cups, leant on the table, frowned and said. “As I pulled back the nets to look, the Ambulance arrived in the lane.” Then tapping her finger like quotation marks she raised her voice “There’s the culprit! I said guiding them to look. From that day on an Ambulance became the culprit.” Winifred dropped the dishes into the sink. “Well my girl a little magic sometimes works wonders; after all a culprit is far more interesting than a Daddy”.
© 2016, Ellen Best. All rights reserved.
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