Blogging and writing is full of adventure isn’t it? You just never know where it might lead. For instance, until recently I had no idea what flash fiction was, but since I started taking part in a few challenges here and there, I have developed a real enjoyment of it.
Such are the connections we make, I have now met Charli who runs a weekly Flash Fiction Challenge over at Carrot Ranch. She gave me a lovely welcome when I jumped on board the wagon train, and there is plenty of room for more!
In sharing some of her family’s history, which runs like the cowboy films I grew up with and so holds a deep fascination for this Brit, Charli has challenged us this week to consider our own history, near or far, and write a flash about it in 99 words, no more, no less.
So many possibilitites, but today one special lady’s story calls out the loudest.
Madeline Dorothy was stubborn and she knew what she wanted to do with her life. Looking after her mother wasn’t it.
Brought up as a Baptist Minister’s daughter, the middle child with two brothers during the tail end of Edwardian Britain, there was every expectation that she would forgo a career and stay at home.
The Roaring Twenties charged in and when Madeline announced that she wanted to pursue a nursing career in London, it did not go down well. She ran away and fulfilled her ambition of nursing sick children.
It was years before Madeline’s mother forgave her.
Madeline Dorothy was my grandmother. She really did run away to London so that she could train as a nurse, something she always felt called to do.
As a girl, I used to love visiting my granny. We talked for hours, something that continued throughout my life. I was fascinated about her younger life: how she had lived in Australia for seven years as a young girl when her father took up ministry there and how she had met my grandfather at the hospital where she worked. For her day, she was older than most (28) when she had her first child, my mother.
Granny never learnt to drive and in her later adult years, right up until she was 92, she rode an adult’s tricycle. A bad fall put an end to that, and she never recovered from the loss of her only means of independence.
Even when my grandfather left her after 35 years of marriage for her ‘best-friend’, Granny, though devastated, got on with life. She had to give up her beautiful home and she moved into her flat in Chichester in West Sussex where she lived until the end of her life at the grand old age of 94.
Ironically, when my mother was about 16, my great-grandmother and her sister, my great-aunt, moved into their home (it was a large, Victorian house in the leafy suburbs of Hale, Cheshire with an attic, a cellar, and that lovely summerhouse which so inspired me!).
When grandfather left her, Granny took them both with her to her flat and there the three of them lived, with Granny looking after them until their deaths (86 and 92 respectively).
I remember helping Granny set out their tea trays in the afternoons with tiny milk jugs, sugar bowls with sugar lumps no less and Colclough porcelain cups and saucers. What a life!
During my visits, just before we were about to eat our evening meal, she would quickly ‘pop’ out with a plate of food covered with a tea-towel for old Mr such-and-such down the road. The fact that Granny was herself in her 80s was beside the point.
She always seemed to have massive amounts of ironing. When I asked her one day why she had so much (and she loved ironing, starched everything so I called her Mrs Tiggy-Winkle), she told me that it was for her ‘elderly’ neighbours, most of whom were much younger than she.
There are so many stories to be told about my granny. The irony isn’t lost on me that as a young woman who took a huge risk in disobeying her mother by running off to London to pursue a totally ‘unsuitable’ career (as it was seen in those days), she went on to look after her mother for the rest of her life.
Afternoon tea on trays and all.