Set a countdown timer for 10 minutes, choose one of the writing prompts below, and just start writing. Your worst memory.
Me on the right in brownies uniform, grandad on the left in his favourite armchair
I cannot remember when exactly, but most probable around 1962 when I was 14 years old. It was a normal night as always, although I know my grandfather had not been so well throughout the day. He was born 1875, lived his life in our house, his wife dying in 1946, my birth year.
He had a good rough life, according to the ways of the working class population at the time. Was a gifted artist, wood carver, and in the building trade as a carpenter throughout his working years. I remember my mother telling me he would work in a local public house but would rarely come home after work, being the best beer customer they had. We had a wonderful collection of china beer mugs at home in commemoration.
He learnt his swearing watching the men gambling on the street corner as a boy. One of the reasons why the teacher sent him home from school. Swearing at the teacher was not correct, even at the end of the 19th century.
He seemed indestructible. Smoked like a chimney, swore like a trooper and was just grandad, sitting in his armchair out in the yard in summer in the sun even when it was hidden by thick clouds of industrial smoke. He joined us watching the television on Saturday evening, blocking any clear view of the screen through thick qualms of cigarette smoke. He rolled his own cigarettes of course with Rizla papers and tobacco.
Now granddad was not so well at the age of 87. I went to bed that evening and my mum and dad were with granddad downstairs in his bedroom. I could hear the raised voices as mum became excited. Her sister, aunt Lil, was called for. She lived in a house just opposite ours in the same street. Aunt Lil, mum and dad looking after granddad counting each breath and watching each eye movement. They sensed what would happen. Voices were loud and excited
“Dad, dad are you ok? We will call the emergency doctor. Why not, you are not well.”
and so I heard the voices all night. My sleep was little, practically none. I felt what was happening in that bedroom downstairs, the urgency of raised voices, concern, worry climbed through the floorboards to my room. For once I was neglected, on my own. My mother had other problems. The doctor was called for, but he did not come as quickly as needed. We were just a simple family in a crowded East End of London, not anything special and probably the idea was to have a look in the morning.
Aunt Lil shouted again “Dad”
My mother “I think he has gone.”
I stole a look at the clock. Around six in the morning, daylight was breaking. No-one in our house closed their eyes during the night. My parents and Aunt Lil who had called her husband Uncle Arthur in the meanwhile watching after granddad. He passed away peacefully. His time had come, but our house was full of sadness tumult during that night. For me it was a night I have never forgotten.