Something to Think About – The R’s of Life – Romance, A modern fairy story by Sally Cronin


Last week was Valentine’s Day so I shared a post I wrote for USA Today Bestselling Romance author Jacquie Biggar’s website last year – on the subject of keeping the magic of romance alive every day.

In respect of this series, where I explore some of the key elements of our modern lives, I take a light-hearted look at love and romance. Well partly light-hearted, as there are some elements of this universally sought after state of bliss that can be from the dark side.

I thought I would share my modern fairy story with you and the things I have learnt along the way.

Have you ever wondered why the classic fairy stories that involve a beautiful farmer’s daughter, scullery maid or even a princess, who are swept off their feet by a handsome and rich stranger on a white horse; end with the words ‘And they lived happily ever after’?

It was not just because most were written by men, at a time when a woman was a chattel who cooked, cleaned and bore children. Women believed that was their role and yearned for it! The male writers of the fairy stories of the time were definitely headed off to happy ever after!

That may sound a bit cynical, but I can remember as a child being fed the propaganda. Most commonly via bedtime stories and the ‘Happy Ever After’ films that we were allowed to watch in our teen years. Disney had the whole thing down to a fine art. By the time I was sixteen and listening to the crooners of the day, I was convinced that at some point, a rich and handsome stranger was going to gallop into my life and sweep me off into a love filled paradise just made for two.

By the time I was 19 years old I had kissed a few frogs. I also thought that Prince Charming had ridden in a few times, then discovered that in reality they just as quickly rode off into the sunset. Still that is all part of growing up, but because of the indoctrination of childhood, I mistook one particular prince for the real thing.

 

Oh the joy in the royal family, that the princess had been chosen by a prince of such standing in the community. A large wedding was planned and executed by the two queens with the kings simply opened the doors to the treasure houses. The invitation lists in both palaces grew by the hour as dignitaries were invited from far and wide. Many of whom the princess and prince had never met. The reception was a masterpiece of just the right location and the food suitably divine. A vaulted arch of the prince’s entourage lined the drive from the grand cathedral; carriages awaited to take the jubilant bridal party to the festivities.

 

A few glasses of champagne, elegant speeches and a thrown bouquet that was caught by the next lucky bride. Then the prince swept the princess off on his luxurious charger into the sunset to the awaiting bridal chamber.

They call it a day to remember, and certainly as I thought about the celebrations in the weeks and months following, I knew it would be etched on my mind forever; not necessarily for the right reasons. Suddenly the prince was not quite so charming, but still my belief that in the end the magic would prevail, maintained the veil of delusion over my star struck eyes.

However, pretty quickly, what I had believed to be the essence of true romance had vanished, and during the next few years I had some pretty good lessons about the reality of maintaining a one-sided relationship. I was trapped by the web that had been spun around me and I felt it would be impossible to break free without angering so many; particularly at the two royal courts.

But one day, for some reason, the spell lost its power and despite the threat of banishment to a far off land where my shame would not be witnessed by family and friends; I packed up a small bundle of clothes and hit the road.

 

I spent the next three years wandering and keeping well away from anyone who knew me, ending up in the depths of the Welsh mountains where I flirted and flitted through a number of meaningless relationships. I was not going to be caught up in the fairy tale again. I was very happy to be the wicked witch and to spend my life making spells of my own and being loved by cats. My release papers arrived on April 1st which seemed totally appropriate.

Then, would you believe it… a prince arrived in disguise. Quiet and bespectacled and riding an ancient nag that had seen better days. There were no grand or extravagant gestures, just a gentle wearing down of my defenses. But there was magic involved of that I am certain. I felt myself being drawn in despite the walls that I had built around me. A spell was being woven that ensnared me and despite all my best intentions, after only one dinner date, I found myself saying yes to spending a lifetime together with this softly spoken suitor.

The Queen and King back at the castle were I was born were aghast on hearing that I was betrothed again. And to a foreign prince from afar with as yet unknown credentials, who had the audacity to propose on our first date; the Queen announced that she was about to faint.

My prince was not about to let the grass grow under his steed however and he approached the King and asked for his daughter’s hand. Rather hopefully, the king offered him £5 and a step ladder, and an enquiry as to if  there might be an elopement. Which there was, and within six weeks, very quietly and without undue ceremony, we were married.

 

This time just both sets of Kings and Queens and one lady in waiting attended! Drenching rain blessed the union in a small office in Wales. After a celebratory lunch we set off on the prince’s ancient steed to a rather dark castle in the mountains, where the bridal suite, decked in red flock wallpaper, vibrated to the noise emanating from the public bar beneath.

Then it was off to the damp and musty rooms, that we managed to find and afford, whilst we worked hard together to build up enough savings to buy our first modest home. That has set the pattern for the last 39 years, where we have both worked together as a team to keep our relationship strong and to achieve a reasonable expectation of ‘Happy Ever After’.

 

Every fairy story usually has a moral at its heart and for me, that was ‘All that glitters is not gold’ and fancy cars, uniforms, extravagant gestures and empty promises are not worth the paper they are written on.

Thirty-nine years into my second marriage, I have no doubt in my mind that my first disaster was sent to teach me a valuable lesson and to appreciate the real thing when I finally found it.

Considering that statistics show that at least 45% of marriages and civil partnerships end in divorce or separation, at least some of you reading this will have gone through a similar experience with your own modern fairy story!

A few observations I have made along the way.

Overuse of the ‘L’ word

I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to overusing words that are supposed to be used to express ones devotion to another.  I love, sugar, salt, dogs, writing, reading, movies, music, next door’s cat, Tom Selleck, chocolate, red wine, ice-cream, strictly come dancing, buying clothes, shoes and handbags.

So how special does that make my husband feel when I tell him I love him?

Words are very easy to use and they spill from our mouths with increasing thoughtlessness to their actual meaning. Telling someone you love them all the time and expecting them to do likewise, especially when you also use the same expression for all the other ‘things’ in your life, can dilute its meaning.  It is lovely to hear from time to time, especially when accompanied by an act of love that reinforces it.

It is actions that speaker louder than words and you can show how much you love someone every day without having to vocalise the emotion.

A very good reason for that loss of the bond that keeps a relationship strong is our expectations. However realistic we may think we are, we still believe that life is going to be eternally happy when we have found our prince or princess. In truth once the courting days, when we are on our best behaviour and make an effort to look great are over, we find out that perhaps we are not as suited as we thought.

Expectations for some young people are fuelled by the the constant stream of gossip about celebrities and their million pound weddings, 100k dresses and a centrefold spread in ‘Hello’. And the fact, that they are far more likely to break up within seven years,also brings a normalcy to the temporary nature of relationships. Particularly as it seems that it is okay to have another million pound wedding with a 100k dress and lavish party again and again. Recreating the fairy story and quite frankly tarnishing it.

It is certainly true for some that there is an expectation of instant gratification and when it looks like some hard work is needed to make a relationship work, it is easier to leave and find another short term fix.

My sympathy does lie however, with the children who seem to be dragged through the public spats and repeated matrimonials without any say in the matter; and you can only wonder what it does to their perception of love and romance!

It seems that once the honeymoon is over, there comes the period of adjustment when it it is permissible to change anything and everything about your new spouse, so that they conform to your idea of perfection!

Football or basketball might be more of a priority than previously thought and nights out with the girls once a week and clubbing might be tough to give up.

One of the assumptions that we make is that when we get married we will be joined at the hip and do everything together. This might be fine if you get married at 75 or 80 years old, but if you are in your twenties, you are still growing and developing. Being married should not mean losing your individuality and there should be activities that you continue to pursue, as long as it takes your partner into consideration.. In fact over the years you will find that you begin to share more and more and that you grow more alike.

There are plenty of activities that you will share as a couple, including when children arrive; which is a wonderful but labour intensive part of a relationship. Sleepless nights and eighteen years of car-pooling and soccer practice begin to eat into time that might be set aside for romantic gestures. Certainly cash flow is usually also restricted with mortgages and college funds. Life is going to keep pushing your boundaries and if you do not have a strong bond, then it will succeed in tearing you apart.

Then there are the little things we didn’t really notice when we were in the throes of passion. Prince charming does snore, have smelly socks and breaks wind and so does his princess.

One of the most often used excuses by men for their infidelity is ‘My wife does not understand me.’ Which usually means that a wife and mother is spending all her time keeping food on the table, taking care of the children as well as hold down a job and not paying him enough attention.

The most used excuse for women for infidelity, is that the love and romance has gone out of their marriage, and they just wanted to feel beautiful and desired. Which usually means that a man is out working in a stressful job all day, comes home and just wants to eat his meal in peace, watch the television have a beer and get some sleep.

And just a tip… let him take his coat off, have a meal and relax before you tell him the washing machine is broken.

It takes a huge amount of work to keep the various relationship elements alive and well.  A lot more work than some people are willing to put in.

There is nothing wrong with ‘Contentment’

Happiness is this all encompassing emotion that is a high we all expect to achieve; and of course there are moments in your life of sheer joy. However, it is impossible to sustain that for 60 or 70 years. You would be worn out. To be honest your friends and family will be pretty weary of seeing your perpetual smiling face and happiness.  It will simply be too tough for them to compete with the perfection.

It is much healthier to achieve a state of contentment, where you still make the effort to keep love and romance alive, and are able to sustain it. This is when the small gestures such as making cups of tea, holding hands in the movies, cooking a favourite meal or a date night, really come into their own.

And one of the key elements of a healthy and long relationship is the laughter. Without that glue to keep you together, it is easy for one or both of you to descend into misery.

At the end of the day this is just my views on romance and certainly every couple needs to find the formula that works for them. Hopefully I have given you something to think about and if you feel that the romance in your partnership could use some TLC then now is the time to give the matter some serious thought.

©sally cronin 2019

You can find the other chapters in the series in this directory… and your feedback is always welcome: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/something-to-think-about/

 

Time for some Laffs – Love makes the world go around and so does laughter


Love is universal but since time began the institution of marriage has provided comic relief….Here are few snippets on the subject.

Did you hear about the actor who got to play a man who’s been married for twenty years. Next time he hopes to get a speaking part!

☺☺☺

Two men are discussing what their wives think about them. The first man says. ‘My wife thinks so much of me that she won’t let me do any work around the house.’

The second man says. ‘That’s nothing; my wife thinks I’m a God.’

‘She thinks you’re a god?’ replies the first man.’ What makes you say that?’

‘It’s obvious. Every night when I get home she places a burnt offering in front of me!’

☺☺☺

A very wealthy but miserly businessman died in an accident and when the lawyer read out the will his wife was astonished to discover that he insisted on all his money being buried with him.

On the day of the funeral as the family and friends gathered to pay their respects one of the wife’s friends stood with her arm about her.

“I understand that he wanted to be buried with all his money, how did you get it all in the coffin with him?”

The wife smiled sweetly.. “I gave him a cheque”

☺☺☺

Husband takes the wife to a disco. There’s a guy on the dance floor giving it large – break dancing, moonwalking, back flips, the works. The wife turns to her husband and says: “See that guy? 25 years ago he proposed to me and I turned him down.” Husband says: “Looks like he’s still celebrating!!”

☺☺☺

A woman is showing off a huge diamond on her finger to her friends. ‘This is the Klopman diamond, worth millions,’ she tells them, ‘but there is a terrible curse that goes with it.’

‘What is the curse? ask her friends breathlessly.   ‘Mr. Klopman.’

☺☺☺

A police officer flags down an elderly driver and says, ‘Excuse me sir, didn’t you realise your wife fell out of the car three miles back?’

‘Thank God,’ the old man replies, ‘I thought I’d gone deaf.’

☺☺☺

The man approached the very beautiful woman in the large supermarket and asked, “You know, I’ve lost my wife here in the supermarket. Can you talk to me for a couple of minutes?” “Why?” “Because every time I talk to a beautiful woman my wife appears out of nowhere.”

☺☺☺

A husband and wife were golfing when suddenly the wife asked, “Honey, if I died would you get married again?” The husband said, “No sweetie.” The woman said, “I’m sure you would.” So the man said, “Okay, I would” Then the woman asked, “Would you let her sleep in our bed?” And the man replied, “Ya, I guess so.” Then the wife asked, “Would you let her use my golf clubs?” And the husband replied, “No, she’s left handed.”

☺☺☺

Want to hear an interesting story? Send a message to your wife:
“I know everything, how could you?”.

What’s in a Name – ‘I’ for Ifan – Life and Death


What's in a name 2

Ifan Williams sat in the small velvet chair that usually held his gran’s dressing gown and woollen shawl. The green velveteen gown was now draped over the end of the bed; adding some extra warmth to her feet as she lay sleeping deeply on this winter’s afternoon.

The big double bed was one of the few pieces of furniture in the cottage overlooking the estuary, when David Lloyd had carried his young bride, Megan, over the threshold in 1920. Over the next few years, other pieces, usually made by local craftsmen, had been carefully brought in through the wide front door at the end of the stone path that led from the main road. None of those hand crafted pieces had been replaced in the last fifty years; the sturdy old oak bed was no exception.

His gran lay beneath a patchwork quilt that she had made as part of her bottom drawer. She had explained that expression to Ifan during their nightly chats by the fireside where they sat together after supper. His granddad had died when Ifan was just three years old; whilst he was living far away in South Wales with his mother and father and two older brothers. He had never known him, but he knew his face well from the old photograph above the mantelpiece. A stern looking man with a big bushy moustache and eyebrows, who Ifan was just a little afraid of.

Gran had laughed at this notion and set about telling him tales of his granddad and his life on the mountain. Cadair Idris was on the other side of the estuary, where David had tended sheep for a large landowner all his working life. She told Ifan of his laughter and the way he would pick her up and swing her around the small kitchen when he came back from the pub on a Friday night with two or three pints inside him. She would smile as she sang the verses that David had romanced her with, even when they were middle-aged; tears would come to her eyes at the memory.

Ifan, his mother and twin brothers, Bryn and George, had returned to the valley to live with gran when he was five years old. His dad had been caught in a collapse in a mine and his mother Bronwyn could not stay in a place that held so many memories of him. It was not just her memories, but fear for her older boys who had worshipped their father and planned on following him down the mines when they were old enough. She dreaded the thought of losing them too and decided that a move back to her home away from that possibility was the only way forward. But it was her youngest son who had worried her the most. He would barely eat and at night he would toss and turn in the grip of dark dreams that had him waking; crying and calling for her.

After a few months it became clear that Bryn and George were unhappy despite finding jobs on a local farm. A soon as they turned eighteen they had announced that they wanted to return to work in the mines. They found this rural farming community too quiet and they missed their friends from the cobbled, narrow streets of the mining town. Despite her misgivings, Bronwyn knew that she could not stop them from following their own paths because of her fear. After some failed attempts to get them to change their minds, she arranged for them to board with a neighbour in the same street that they had grown up in. Bronwyn had tried very hard to be brave for Ifan’s sake as they stood hand in hand on the platform, watching the train leave the station carrying the boys back to South  Wales.

That was three years ago and despite initially missing his brothers very much; they made an effort to write to him often, occasionally sending photographs and also ringing to speak to him on the old black telephone in the kitchen. Ifan was now ten years old and had taken on the role of man of the house. Life had settled into a happy and stable routine and he had flourished. His mother too had gone back to work part-time in nearby Dolgellau in a store, walking Ifan to school in the morning and waiting for him when the bell rang at the end of the day. They would arrive home to supper on the table and Ifan particlarly loved his gran’s homemade berry crumble and thick custard.

In the summer holidays after his mother finished work the three of them would take a picnic part of the way up the track that led to the summit of Cadair, sitting on the mossy grass as they ate egg sandwiches and sticky homemade ginger cake. Megan would tell stories of David’s life as a shepherd and one story that Ifan loved to hear time and time again was about the black sheep.

One winter when unexpected early snow was deep on the ground, the farmer and David had trekked up the narrow path to find the flock and bring them down the mountain to safety. It was almost impossible to see through the still falling snow and they had almost given up hope of finding them when David had spotted the old matriarch of the flock. Black against the whiteness and surrounded by unmoving mounds that looked like snowdrifts. As soon as the black ewe saw the men she recognised, she bleated and headed towards them, followed by the rest of the flock; visible now as they turned their dark faces in their direction. Within an hour they were all safely down to the lower slopes and feeding on bales of hay hungrily.

Gran said that in these dangerous mountains every flock needed a strong black ewe at the heart of the flock; wherever she was, they would be safe.

Now gran was very sick and the doctor had been in twice today. Ifan sat rigidly in the delicate chair holding a fragile, blue veined hand in his own small grasp. He looked up at her lined and much loved face and held his breath as he saw her eyes flicker and then open.

‘Hello Cariad my love,’ Megan turned her head on the pillow and squeezed his hand lightly.

‘Gran are you feeling better?’ Ifan leaned forward over the patchwork quilt and stared intently into her deeply lined face.

‘I am very tired pet, but so pleased to see you sitting there like a vision,’ she swallowed with difficulty but then smiled at the worried looking child. ‘Nothing that a good milky cup of cocoa wouldn’t fix.’

The boy stood up and removed her hand from his, placing it gently across the quilt… He rushed to the kitchen where his mother was making supper and grabbed her arm.

‘Mum, mum, gran’s awake and says she wants a cup of milky cocoa.’

His mother frowned and pulling out a chair from the scrubbed wooden kitchen table, she gently pushed Ifan into the seat. Resting her hands on his thin shoulders she kissed the top of his head before leaving the room.

A few minutes later, Ifan heard sobbing coming from the big front bedroom and he rushed down the corridor and burst into the room. His mother was sat in the velvet chair holding Megan’s hand up to her lips; tears filling her eyes. The boy went to the other side of the bed and looked down at his gran as she lay with her eyes closed and a slight smile on her lips. He looked across at Bronwyn and she met his gaze for a moment before shaking her head slowly from side to side.

A few days later the cottage was filled with mourners, most of whom had known Megan all her life and certainly since she had moved into the cottage with David Lloyd so many years ago. Ifan’s brothers had returned home for the funeral and were now on the back porch drinking beer with the men from the town. Ifan slipped away to his gran’s bedroom and sat in the velvet chair with his small fists clenched on his lap. Through his tears he looked over at the bedside table and saw Megan’s reading glasses perched on top of a white envelope. He picked it up and saw that it was addressed to him. The letter was unsealed so he pulled back the flap and removed the slip of paper inside. He read the spidery writing that covered the small piece of paper.

Cariad, please do not be sad. I am in a wonderful place now with your granddad and I want you to remember the story of the black sheep on the mountain. Your mum is now the heart of the family and if you stay close to her and follow her you will be safe and happy. Be brave and I love you my lamb. Gran.

After the visitors had all left; his two brothers’ and his mum sat around the kitchen table with a pot of tea talking about the day and exchanging memories of Megan. Ifan slipped away quietly and put himself to bed. For a few minutes he stared up at the ceiling above his head and then across at his album containing all the family photos he treasured. A white envelope protruded between the pages and there it would stay forever. He switched off the bedside light and within minutes he had drifted off to sleep, dreaming of a black sheep leading her flock across the green hillside in the sunshine.

©sallygeorginacronin What’s In a Name 2015

 

What’s in a Name- Short Story – ‘E’ for Eric – Alone


The name Eric is derived from the Old Norse name Eirikr and means ‘one’, ‘alone’ or in certain parts of Scandinavia ‘eternal’.

What’s in a Name – ‘E’ for Eric – Alone.

Eric stood in front of the mirror and for a moment deliberately avoided putting his glasses on. All he could see was a blur and therefore could just about pass muster. Behind him he could feel the presence of his wife Billie and knew what she was going to say.

‘Eric, love you have let yourself go,’ there would be disappointment in her voice.

He slipped his spectacles on and his image immediately appeared all too clearly. He did a quick head to toe scrutiny. Muddy red hair streaked with grey, too long about the ears and hanging over the neck of his dressing gown. Three days’ worth of beard as he only shaved once a week when going to the supermarket for the shopping. His tatty t-shirt that he wore over his ancient pyjama bottoms sported faded lettering that read Grateful Dead; his slippers had a hole where his big toe poked through.

Yes, Billie would have definitely gone to town on him.

He debated whether to pull the bedroom curtains or not and decided to leave them for two very good reasons. Firstly, letting daylight in would illuminate the state of the room which was a shambles and secondly, it might signal to Mrs Green across the road that he was alive and would welcome her advances.

He left the drapes undisturbed and shuffled out onto the landing and down the stairs to the chilly hall. Damn, he had left the kitchen window open again. He wasn’t bothered by burglars since there was little of value to be taken except for his photograph album, and that was safely locked away behind the big seascape on the dining room wall. The safe also held a few precious mementos such as the leather box that contained Billie’s few bits of good jewellery; her bling as she called it. Her engagement and wedding rings, some earrings she had inherited from her mother and a watch that he had splashed out on for their 25th wedding anniversary.

He wandered into the kitchen and put the kettle on and measured out some oats into a bowl with some water. He stuck that in the microwave and closed the offending window that had let the cold night air into the house. Three pings announced that his porridge was ready and he threw a teabag into a mug of boiling water. There was a few inches of milk in the bottle in the fridge and he poured some over the oats and into the mug. That left enough for a coffee later, but having forgotten to put the item on his list three days ago; it looked like he would have to venture forth after all to the shop on the corner.

He carefully carried the bowl and mug into the dining room and stopped dead. There, sat on one of the dining-room chairs was a cat. A ginger and black cat to be exact and it was looking at him expectantly. Eric nearly dropped the bowl and tea on the floor and just managed to reach the table and lay them down before slopping hot liquid all over his hands.

sally wedding day 1980His visitor remained impassive and kept eye contact, which rather disconcerted Eric who was not used to animals, especially cats. Billie had been allergic to them and since they had travelled a great deal, particularly when he had retired from the police force, there had never been an opportunity to bring one into their home.

The cat was virtually the first visitor to the house in the year since his wife had died. One or two of the neighbours had popped in with shepherd’s pie or offers to come to Sunday lunch, but after several polite rejections of both food and invitations they had given up on him. Except of course for Widow Twanky across the road who was looking for husband number four. Perhaps his having been a copper had a bearing on the lack of neighbourly communication. There was no doubt that they liked having one on the street as a deterrent to some of the criminal fraternity, but socialising was quite another thing. You never know what guilty secret might slip out after a couple of glasses of wine.

His friends from the force had tried to encourage him out of his self-imposed exile too, with telephone calls asking him to join them at their old watering hole, The Bugle. He just couldn’t face their sympathy or the awkward silences in the middle of a busy night in the pub. Eric was also terrified that he would embarrass himself by blubbering into his beer at the first kind word.

Since the cat was making no move to vacate the chair he usually sat on; he moved to the other side of the table and placed his now cooling porridge in front of him. The creature was still giving him the once over and then offered its opinion in the form of an elongated meow that sounded rather unflattering. Eric raised his hand to his shaggy head and tried to smooth his hair into place. He felt very disconcerted by the direct gaze of his uninvited guest and thought perhaps an offer of some of his porridge might divert its attention.

There was a saucer on the table under a dead house plant that looked reasonably clean and he carefully poured a little of the lukewarm porridge with its milky topping onto the china. He laid it down in front of the cat and watched to see if this would be acceptable. With impeccable manners it delicately placed two front paws on the table and gently lapped at the offering; still keeping both eyes firmly on its host. Eric shrugged and proceeded to eat his breakfast and drink his tea, also keeping eye contact with his feline intruder.

Several days passed and Eric got into the habit of leaving the kitchen window open each night. Every morning he would poke his head around the door to the dining room and sure enough his new companion would be waiting on the chair expectantly.

In the first two or three days the cat would leave its designated chair and disappear into the kitchen after consuming its own bowl of porridge. Eric could hear the faint sound of paws on the marble surface; followed by the sound of a slight scramble as it left through the open window. He was surprised to feel a sense of loss.

It was not long before the visitor, who Eric had named Doris, was dropping off the chair and crossing to the sofa where she would settle herself in to sleep away the morning. She might pop out of the window from time to time but always returned to the warm patch she had fashioned for herself. Eric had established by careful scrutiny that Doris was indeed a girl and that he had not insulted some tetchy tomcat; within a few days she would lift her head when he called her name.

Eric found himself shaving every morning as he needed to go out more often to buy fresh milk and also tins of cat food. He began to open the curtains in his bedroom and the washing machine began to hum in the background more often. Doris would sit in a patch of sunlight in any of the rooms that he happened to be in and gradually over the next month both man and house came back to life. A visit to the barbers and a rifle through the sale items in the supermarket had resulted in some new clothes,slippers and also a couple of pairs of pyjamas.

They lived together but remained aloof. It was to be six weeks before Doris approached him as he sat leafing through his photograph album on the other end of the sofa where she normally lay. He tentatively put out his hand and stroked the top of her head and then down her sleek back which she obligingly arched. She nudged closer and he placed his arm around her. He was amazed by the loudness of the delighted purr that vibrated in her chest. He looked back down at the album open to the photographs of his and Billie’s wedding day forty five years ago. It was the sixties and his long red hair hung down to his shoulders; his lovely Billie who had only been twenty at the time had sparkled in her cream dress and fake fur cape. She used to call him her Viking warrior, and would tell him as they lay in each other’s arms at night how safe he made her feel.

Tears filled his eyes and they dropped onto the plastic film that protected the photos. Some splashed onto the hand that was holding his warm companion close to him and he felt her rough tongue lick the moisture away. He smiled down at her and then gently wiped the tears from the album. Billie’s last words to him had been to beg him to find happiness again one day and not to live alone. He took his arm from around Doris; closed the album firmly and placed it on the table beside the sofa.

‘How do you fancy a bit of tuna for supper Doris?’ He rubbed a tender spot beneath her chin. ‘Then I have to pop out for a couple of hours to meet some old work mates down the pub.’

©sallycronin What’s In a Name – 2015

I hope you enjoyed Eric’s story and you will the others in the series in this directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/whats-in-a-name-short-stories/

 

I would love your feedback and please feel free to share the story via the links.

Thanks Sally

 

 

 

 

What’s in a Name – ‘D’ for David – Beloved.


The boy’s name David is likely to be derived from the Hebrew meaning ‘beloved’. David was the second king of Israel and legend has it that he defeated Goliath the giant Philistine with a simple sling at a young age. The name has been used commonly since the Middle Ages and Saint David is the patron saint of Wales.

poppy

What’s in a Name ‘D’ for David – Beloved.

David stood beside his comrades as they waited in the village square for the parade to begin. Despite their advancing years, the men stood as tall as possible, often with the aid of a stick. Two of their number were in wheelchairs, and had been guided across the cobble stones by their fellow old soldiers.

It was a typical chilly November morning with dark skies and clouds laden with imminent rain. Whilst inappropriate perhaps for this solemn occasion, the men standing huddled against the cold wind; wished for a few rays of sunshine. Their overcoats were shiny with age but their shoes were burnished to a brilliance thanks to the loving attention the night before. A reminder of a time, when the action of rubbing in polish and then shining the boots for the sergeant’s approval, was used for reflection. A time to remember all the nights many years ago, when comrades would sit on camp beds talking quietly as they prepared their kit for inspection and parades.

Beribboned pins, holding silver and bronze medals, lay proudly against the material on their chests and nobody really noticed the frayed cuffs that peeked out from the sleeves of the worn coats. Their pride was clear to see by all who passed; many of whom smiled in recognition or tipped a hat. They were the old soldiers and heroes of the village and despite their dwindling numbers were respected and honoured. Not just today, but every time they were met in the shops and lanes of this small community that had given up so many of its young men to war.

David did not feel the cold and felt content to be part of the camaraderie and fellowship of being amongst those he had served with. He caught little snippets of conversation as he stood, head bowed waiting for the order to form into the parade.

‘My Elsie has had another grandson… Who would have thought it…? I’m a great granddad….’

‘That new doctor looks like he’s just left school… Told me that I had something called heemaroids… Used to call them bloody piles in my day…’

‘I’m sorry that Jack didn’t make it this year… Miss the old codger… We will have to find a replacement for the cribbage night…’

David smiled as he listened to his friends talking about their lives and raised his head as he heard the sound of the local brass band strike up.

He had been part of this ceremony for the last fifty years since the squire had erected the memorial in the centre of the village. Lord Roberts was a good man and had been devastated by the loss of his own son in the last few weeks of the war. Out of respect and loyalty to those other families in the village and surrounding area who had lost fathers, husbands and sons, he had paid for the monument himself.

That first November as the group of survivors had stood in the rain to commemorate the loss of their brothers and friends, many had still relied on crutches, and as today, one or two had been in wheelchairs. It was a far cry from the day that they had stood in this same square waiting for the horse drawn carriages to take them off to basic training.

The call had come, and from the surrounding farms and isolated cottages, men between the ages of eighteen and thirty-eight, who were not exempt because of occupation, health or marital status, walked proudly into the recruitment centre in the village hall. David was just nineteen when war was declared and was swept along by the patriotic message and fervour that swept the nation. There was talk down the pub of places outside of their small community that might be visited.

‘Blimey, a chance to see the other side of the hill lads…’ and ‘Do you think those French girls are as friendly as they say?’

The thought of glory and adventure had been foremost in their young minds. It certainly did not hurt that the girls in the village became very attentive when they arrived back for leave after basic training in their uniforms. The day that they had formed up into a parade to march to the square and climb aboard the transports was frozen in time. Mothers weeping as they clung to their sons and fathers slapping them on the back and proudly straightening their caps. Couples embracing for one last kiss and whispered words of love.

It had been very different when David returned to the village a year later. Although now only twenty he felt that he had aged a lifetime. As he stepped down from the train in the nearby town, carefully favouring his injured right arm and struggling with his kitbag, it was without glory. The sight of his parents waiting from him in the evening sunlight had reduced him to tears and as the horse and cart made its way to the farm; his mother had held him tightly as he sobbed against her best coat.

Over those first few days of calm and peace; David had spent hours alone walking the fields and hills desperately trying to find any meaning behind the senseless carnage and sacrifice he had experienced. He knew that once his injury was fully healed he would have to return and the thought of this kept him awake at night in his room in the rafters of the farmhouse.

Then one day, as the sun shone as he helped his father harvest the wheat, he saw his mother heading towards them swinging a laden lunch basket. Beside her with golden hair that gleamed in the sunlight was a tall and very beautiful young woman.

‘Here you go pet,’ his mother handed off the basket to David. ‘You remember Cathy from the Black’s farm don’t you?’

David looked into bright blue eyes and was then drawn down to the perfectly formed red lips that smiled at him.

Six weeks later they were married in the village church and had walked out into the sunshine to a guard of honour of fellow soldiers home on leave or who had been injured. The reception in the hall in the square had been packed with well-wishers and David and Cathy had danced and celebrated until midnight. Then they had slipped away unnoticed to their room above the pub.

Every year since the memorial was erected David had marched with his comrades and then stood with them as wreaths were laid around the base. And each year his breath would catch in his chest and his heart would skip a beat as he watched his Cathy carry a wreath and lay it amongst the rest. That first year she had also held the hand of a little girl, his daughter who unlike all others somberly dressed, was wearing a beautiful handmade coat of blue. His favourite colour.

He had watched Cathy and his daughter every year since then as they would both walk proudly to the memorial and lay their tribute. But this year his daughter walked with another by her side and there was no sign of his darling wife. He slipped through the ranks of his comrades until he was standing in the front row. He could hear his daughter saying something to the tall young man by her side.

‘You lay the wreath David; your grandmother wanted you to do this for her this year.’

The lad reverently laid it down amongst the others and he stood back by his mother’s side. Together they turned and walked solemnly back towards the waiting villagers where they were greeted with hugs and the boy was patted on the back.

A tear rolled down David’s face with sorrow at the loss of his beautiful Cathy. As he stood bereft at the front of his silent comrades at attention but with their heads bowed, the clouds parted and rays of sunshine spread across the square. As they did so, his eyes were drawn to a young woman with golden hair and blue eyes who walked over the cobbles to stand by his side. She slipped her cool hand into his and he smiled down at her with joy.

Unseen by all those who had gathered to remember him and all the others who had not returned; they slipped away hand in hand. The long wait for them both was over.

The previous stories can be found in this directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/whats-in-a-name-short-stories/

©sallygeorginacronin What’s in a Name

Kindness – A simple word or gesture is all that is needed.


If you have been reading any of the reblogs this morning you will see that apart from double chocolate muffins (well even one of those counts) most have been associated with an act of kindness.

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This virtual bouquet was sent to me by Kaur Inderjit https://www.facebook.com/kaur.inderjit.16 who lives in Mumbai, India. We have never met but connected recently on Facebook.  I thanked her wondering why I was so privileged to have received it.  This was her response.

Just a bit from my side to spread smiles we all are so Stressed out
So helping my author friends With Spreading Smiles

Following that a blogger called Dominic Jones also sent me a message. You’ve been featured on TOWWIOW’s blog for Thank You Tuesday http://goo.gl/zg45lh.  Dominic listed all his wordpress followers to date and also those who have recently followed on Twitter.

My third example is to be found at Kim Gosselin’s blog http://kimgosselinblog.com/ where Kim is posting about the final days with her mother three years ago.  It is a last and very personal kindness to be with someone as they leave us.  Her post touched me as I was with both my father and my mother at that time.  Kim describes her role as gatekeeper of her mother’s wishes but it is also the bridge between this world and whatever comes after.

Whilst we as family can perform that last act for those we love, thankfully millions of healthcare workers and volunteers around the world are also there in final moments. They are owed a huge thank you, for even if they are strangers, they know the vital importance of that last touch of hand in hand.

Kindness is not about grand gestures, fanfares and headlines.  Philanthropy is to be applauded and it makes a huge difference to many helpless, desperate people and other creatures we share the earth with.  However, it is also the quiet, unheralded, small acts of kindness on a daily basis that can make the most difference to the lives of people we include in our circles of family and friends. Both those we have met in person and those that we have embraced here online.  It is also the few hours a week in a volunteer position in a hospice or in an animal sanctuary, the drop in to an elderly neighbour with some cupcakes, or a simple phone call to a friend who is going through a tough time. There are hundreds of ways that we can make a difference.

Have a wonderful day.  And thank you for being here.

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