Fiction Fantasy


To understand this little tale, I use the lyrics from an old song, Try To Remember written by Tom Jones as part of the musical The Fantastiks.

‘Try to remember the kind of September

When life was slow and oh, so mellow.

Try to remember the kind of September

When grass was green and grain so yellow.

Try to remember the kind of September

When you were a young and callow fellow,

Try to remember and if you remember then follow.’

“Try to Remember”, the song from the ‘sixties’ was on the radio. As Jean walked into the kitchen she smiled. She had never forgotten the lyrics and now, her emotions were raw. Time did not stand still and she was no longer young. The song was popular when Jean and Harry had found and purchased number twenty-four, a double brick two storey home in need of loving attention; from a young couple with energy and drive to achieve their goals and enough love for each other that nothing else mattered. At that time, in the middle of the back lawn, one thing stood sentinel providing comfort to the eye, and shelter from the sun; the weeping willow. It did not quite block the ugly washing line out, but it tried. It was a thing of beauty all year round. Though Jean worked hard in the garden, her solace in times of growth or grief, it was the weeping willow she retreated to, as though it oozed solace. It was a place where the cradle or pram could be left in relative safety and Drew and later Amy played in its shelter or climbed the tree to hide from the world and sometimes from Jean if the children sensed that their behaviour warranted punishment. Still, for the years of growing up, it was the place to be, with or without family or friends. Poor old thing, like Jean its days, were numbered, and saying goodbye for the sake of progress would be difficult.

Try to remember when life was so tender

That no one wept except the willow.

Try to remember when life was so tender

That dreams were kept beside your pillow.

Try to remember when life was so tender

That love was an ember about to billow.

Try to remember and if you remember then follow.’

Dreams; day or night dreams, were often evoked by whimsical songs and shattered by fear. Jean remembered the time she took ill, and the medical scare she had when the kids were in their teens could be fixed because the problem was benign.  She had energy enough only to rest under the tree.  Amy had developed her cooking skills then and seemed disappointed when Mum was well enough to be in charge of the kitchen once again. Jean smiled remembering Harry dealing with the situation

“Honey, I know this is Mum’s kitchen, but she will happily sit down when your old Dad wants your shortbread or indeed your veggie soup though not on the same plate.” he ruffled her hair “take a tip from me. Learn what you can from Mum, because if it should be that we get a son in law he will be pleased you can cook, even if he can also.” Amy smiled, her tears averted, and Jean shared the kitchen.

The weeping willow was a focal point one summer. Australia was often plagued by drought though fortunately not famine. One year, everything was so dry that Harry was fearful of losing the willow. He was determined to do what he could to save her. Digging a trench around her; Harry with Drew’s help patiently found, filled, refilled, and upended old jars on a daily basis. Eventually, they saw signs of new growth and they all celebrated with ginger beer. The tree remained a place for suitors, kisses and happiness; Willow as they called her, was a part of the family. It was as though she knew how important she was.

Then years later when Harry just was not responding to the treatment he sat under the weeping willow; it seemed to renew his energy. Drew took a picture of the tree and framed it so that if Dad needed more treatment, he would have something to feast his weary eyes on amid the fear and isolation. It was a pity that he could not be buried under it, but, irrespective of bylaws, now in her sixty-first year Jean knew that the house once sold would most likely be demolished and units built on the land. Harry’s ashes were intact, with no danger of being bulldozed.

‘Deep in December, it's nice to remember

Although you know the snow will follow.

Deep in December, it's nice to remember

Without a hurt the heart is hollow.

Deep in December, it's nice to remember

The fire of September that made you mellow.

Deep in December our hearts should remember then follow.’

The irony about the song and the seasons, opposites between the UK and in Australia, almost made a mockery of life There are however seasons to personal life. Jean was moving to a different chapter. Living closer to Amy and her husband seemed the most sensible thing to do. She was still fit enough to be independent, and wise enough to keep her interests and church activities going, thus she would keep in contact with her friends, and give the family space.

Her mobile phone was ringing, it was Amy

“Hi, Mum did you hear your song?”

“Yes, I did darling,”

“Were you sad?”

“Not especially so, Willow and I are grand old ladies now.”

Amy laughed

“Bill and I thought you’d like to know that there is a possible buyer for the house. Could we bring them round after lunch?”

“Yes, my all means, but surely the agent would bring them?”

“Naturally, she will be there too. See you then.”

This was no time for daydreaming. Fortunately, Jean was a naturally tidy woman, but there was still a bit to do. Yet Willow beckoned as though she was shedding her own tears. When the doorbell rang, she was surprised to see Amy, Bill, Drew and his wife Kath who was a real estate agent.

“What’s going on?” asked Jean smiling

“Mumma Jean,” said Kath “Drew and I want to buy your house. We can’t find anything like it which we want. Besides we miss Willow.”

“Can we talk seriously about it Mum?” asked Drew “if it does not suit we will go with the original plan.”

Jean, her eyes brimming with tears nodded. Good old Number Twenty Four, maybe it simply faced a new season!

April 23, 2021 05:43

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