Recently, a good friend died and it made me think of those difficult times that are hard to talk about. Do we avoid them in a memoir or not? I think if we can find something positive from the experience of a serious illness, a family death or a misunderstanding, it could add some value to our story.
We may have learned from an unpleasant happening; we all learn from our mistakes. I remember a boy whom I did not like chasing me around on his bike when I went home from playing tennis in our village.I complained to my mother who knew about his family. She suggested that, instead of saying ,”I can’t like him or talk to him” that I should try. One Friday, I did stop riding and said hello to him. He said nothing so I asked how he was and why he enjoyed cycling. He murmured that it was how he passed the time. My attitude to him changed because I had faced a situation that bothered me. I also learned a little compassion.
I know life wasn’t easy for my mother after my father had his back broken but her determination to give us a good education ,made her work long hours in her shop and become very successful buying what people needed during and after WWII. It was difficult for my father who was always in pain and dealing with his pain and emotions was one way I learned how to understand others who suffer.
Wartime brought me many years of separation from my parents. Today war has left many homeless and in far worse condition than my brother and I were with relatives who loved us. Living with older uncles gave me opportunities to hear stories of their past and a fascinating story about how my grandfather came to live in the Welsh valley. I loved those stories so, out of an unhappy separation, I discovered something about my family’s adventurous spirit and I bonded with cousins who would normally have lived miles away.
The pain of losing family and friends is still there, especially one close friend I lost when we were both young mothers and when I felt she had so much to give. She had a brain tumour at 32 years old and died within two years. Her courage when she went blind and her joy with our visits to her on some days was amazing. I still miss her but I feel privileged to have experienced her friendship and her acceptance of her illness. I think I will always include these difficult times in my own story because it was through them that I learned about courage, love and some understanding of other people.