Saturday, April 28, 2012
In 1981, Corinne, my eldest, and I were in Wales spending time with the children of my mother's cousin.
Peter and Jo along with my mother's cousin, Nancy, took us for a drive and we ended up in Nantyglo.
My mother and her parents had left Nantyglo around 1928 to emigrate to Canada. Growing up I heard so much of Nantyglo it was as if I had been there many times. My great grandfather's butcher shop was still a butcher shop and the row of shops with the living accommodations above, still lined the street. We strolled the same walkway my grandfather, the local "Bobby" trod every day.
Now in a small town it doesn't take very long for word to get around that there are people from "America" peering in vacant shop windows. We were engaged in conversation several times and my grand parents were remembered. Tales of my quiet grandfather "rolling on the bailey," to subdue someone who had had one too many at the local delighted and surprised me.
We were introduced to the lady who, at that time, owned the property, then vacant, where my family had lived and where my grand mother had had her "sweet shop." Nothing would stop her as she got the keys and walked us down the street and opened the door for us to enter. We walked past the barren shelves and into the the family living area behind. The small fireplace and huge mantle, the heavily wallpapered walls all spoke of a home once loved and cared for. We went up the narrow stairs to the two bedrooms. "This would have been your grandparents room," she said of the front room. The ceiling was low and my tall grandfather would not have been able to stand upright. In Wales it seems men are either just over 6 ft or barely 5ft. Then she said, "Your mother was born in this room." Corinne had found a squeeky board and rocked back and forth on it. I was overcome with emotion, I wanted to weep so instead I rather sharply told her to stop rocking on the board. Aunty Kate would have said, "My tear ducts are connected to my bladder." An expression used to describe a "soppy person." ME.
After a good look around we returned to our guide's house for a cup of tea. I am sorry I don't remember her name. She was a lovely lady in her 90's at the time. Before we left she pressed this little horseshoe into my hand. "Your grandmother was my friend," she said, "and when she left to go to Canada she gave me this to remember her by. It is only fitting that you have it now."
Then I really cried. I never knew my grandmother. She passed away when my mother was 16 yrs old.
As I pack these precious little things it came to me that to anyone else this is just a silly little thing but it has a wonderful story I felt I should share.