The mental health writing group I’m part of gave the prompt to write about a childhood memory. I tried to keep it happy. It was hard.
Should be simple, right? But, as of right now, I have no idea what I’m going to write about. I’m hoping something will come to me as I type. You see, this prompt (or, a similar one, at least) came up a couple of months ago in something else, and I discovered I don’t have memories from childhood. Except for the nightmares I have pretty much every night and the flashbacks every day. But I’m not going to write about any of those. I want to write about something normal.
And so, I struggle. It’s the strangest thing. I try to think about my childhood, and it’s like the part of my brain which holds the files for that part of my life is locked. Or, maybe it’s been thrown away. I’m not sure.
Okay. I’ve made myself a coffee and had a hard think about this, and I have something. Something that, actually, makes me really happy when I think about it.
I know I’ve mentioned a few times how important music and dance was to my Dad’s family. They were all singers and dancers, and I inherited the love for both. Today, music is the thing that links me back to Dad the most strongly. It’s the thing that can break me, but it’s also the thing that makes me feel loved.
So, this isn’t one specific memory of one specific event. Every Saturday night, we used to go visit my Auntie Beryl; Mum’s favourite sister. The car journey was about twenty-five minutes, and those whole twenty-five minutes were always packed with song and laughter and happiness. Dad usually let me choose the cassette tape (yes, I’m that old!) to play. Now, this is where I hold my hands up and say, “My taste in music is not cool. My taste in music is eclectic.” I guess, at the age when I used to go to Auntie Beryl’s with Mum and Dad (once I was thirteen, I opted to stay home alone and invite friends over) a lot of my musical taste was based on Dad’s tastes. I have to admit, I still like that music. I’m talking music from the 60’s, 70’s, country music. There were two cassettes I chose most often: one was a Beatles compilation and the other was a 60s compilation. On the Beatles album, ‘Eleanor Rigby’ was mine and Dad’s favourite. We always (and I mean every time we listened) discussed how sad the song is. It felt like it was really important. It connected Dad and me with a fine lasso. The song from the 60’s album that caught me was ‘Those Were The Days’ by Mary Hopkin. Again, we discussed the meaning every week. Dad would talk about how I should’t waste my youth because it would be gone far too quickly, and you can never get it back. He always had this wistfulness in his voice. It’s weird how I understood that; even when I was only, like, six or seven. I already felt like I’d wasted too much time feeling unhappy, and I was terrified that life would only get worse from there. I feel so sad when I hear that song today because my youth has gone. I did waste it.
Ahh, nuts! I meant to keep it happy. Despite what I’ve written above, we did sing along to all the cool songs. Like ‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia.’ That was one of our favourites. I still love it today. Those car journeys were special, bonding time. What I wouldn’t give to be in the car, singing along to Johnny Cash and Dusty Springfield.
Right, now I’ve started to write about a memory, I’m going to continue. Once we got to Auntie Beryl’s, I always had a great time. Mostly, because I was away from home, and away from my grandfather and my bedroom. My two cousins, who are both older than me, used to play with me. They had a huge garden with lots of places to hide and build dens. I loved going there. But the crowning glory for me was the dart board they had in their hallway. I loved playing darts every week. I don’t know why because it’s not exactly an exciting game, but I always looked forward to it. And then, there was the ice cream. Every week, Auntie Beryl gave us a Pzazz ice cream. I don’t think they sell them any more, but they were delicious.
On the way home, Dad would start by singing his own, local songs that he and his family used to sing in pubs and clubs. They were, mostly, really depressing, and I remember feeling sad when he sang them. But they were beautiful, too, and his voice was rich and lovely. He sang some funny, slightly rude, songs too, and I remember Mum tapping his arm more than once and telling him to stop.
It may not sound like much, but these moments are among the happiest of my life. Yeah. So, there is my memory.