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Welcome to my private portfolio page on my website if you leave you will need to use the emailed link to return here.
On this page, you will find two short posts from my blog, a piece of creative writing (non-fiction), and one of my guided meditations written and presented by me.
My Earliest Memory
My first encounter with a dead person happened when I was two years old, the memory of it came to me when I was twenty four. I had been sitting with a friend as he died of AIDS. On leaving the hospital after he had taken his last bow, the scent of death strong in my nostrils, I was hit with the most vivid memory of visiting my great grandmother.
We were walking down a terraced street, my mother, brother, and I. All the doors were the same muddy burgundy colour, a colour I dislike to this day although I feel no trauma or sadness in this memory. My dominant emotion remains curiosity as I had no idea where we were going or why. We stopped outside number 9 and my mother knocked. After what, to my little self, seemed like an age, the door opened to reveal a tiny ancient woman in a kilt with a peg leg. She turned and walked down the hallway into the front room and we dutifully followed.
I am still a person of small stature and so the dominant images of this memory are from my tiny two year olds height: the peg leg that looked like a spindle from a stair bannister and the thicker, oversized walking stick, the dark colours of her kilt and the pattern of the hallway wallpaper. The front room had a slightly bayed window and an enormous bed against the hallway wall which my great grandmother lay herself upon. I did not perceive that this was her last day on earth, she just seemed very weary. I was perched on the very end of this bed, my mother and brother obscuring my view but no matter because my attention was completely absorbed by the most enormous man, standing in front of the fire. Compared to the faded quality of my great grandmother he seemed to be in sharp relief, from his incredibly shiny black shoes to the bowler hat on his head. The black of his greatcoat, the white of his shirt and the narrow black tie had a deep intensity. I remember feeling incredibly intimidated, not by the size of him as everyone seemed big to me, but by the fact that everyone completely ignored him. I don’t think my eyes left him once but my mind raced as I pondered what terrible thing he must have done to go so wholly unacknowledged. I could not fathom such a heinous act that would have brought this harsh punishment down on him.
As I mentioned, I had no memory of this event until my friend’s gruesome death many years later but the burning need to know what had warranted this man’s ostracism drove me to call my mother and ask.
At first she denied me ever having met my great grandmother, saying that she had died when I was two. So, I began to describe the details of the wallpaper, the kilt, the number on the front door, the bedroom, until she remembered that we had come over from Germany, where we were living, to visit her, as she was dying. Once that was established, I stole the courage to ask her about the man who stood in front of the fire, with the determination to discover why everyone had ignored him.
Again, my mother denied his presence, so I described his clothes and then his face, all so vivid to me. A silence ensued. Eventually I asked if she knew who he was and what he had done. Her reply came quietly; “yes!”
He was her Uncle John, a brother I never knew my grandmother had had, as he had died eight years before my birth. My great grandmother died the day after our visit and I can’t help but wonder if he had come to escort her on that final journey.
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