Sunday, August 2, 2009

A place of belonging

From the first day She came to the house She had known it was there, hidden somewhere in the roof. The woman who lived here before told Her about it. But we learned the story from the cats who had lived here before.



So when the builders came and tore the house apart we kept a watchful eye for it, waited, until it came to light. It was almost swept out with the rubble, all bent and tangled with cobwebs, it looked like nothing. But the young one saw it, picked it out, and put it safe up high. Something called to him, through the years, told him to keep it safe. Something, or someone.




Years ago there was a tradition that when a child left home you would place one of their shoes in the eaves of the house. This way they would always return, no matter how far they roamed, no matter where. This boot, now bent with age, now dry and dusty, this hobnailed boot belonged to a child, much loved. This was the Sunday best, going to church boot, all groomed and shod. All week the child would run barefoot over the hills, wild with the wonder of heather and gorse, seals and the sea, barefoot in the grass in the sand in the waves. On Sundays they would march together into church and sit in solemn rows.
Once this boot shone, polished with love, caressed by a mother's hands. She would tie the laces for the restless child, hug him close and breath in his summer scent, then lose him on the world and watch him run, between the high banks, all the way to the big church.
And when he grew too big for his child's shoe she kept it safe.
Then came the day that she dreaded, when the world called her boy away to war. She watched him march away with the other lads from Treleddyd Fawr, excited, full of themselves and full of the joy of being alive. She watched until he was long gone and still she stood. Then she fetched the shoe from its draw and placed it in the eaves of the house and said a small prayer.


In St Davids Cathedral there is a war memorial that carries the names of three of the sons from Treleddyd Fawr who died in the Great War.
It is said that if the shoe in the eves did not bring the child home that it would draw back their spirit to rest at home so it would not wander the earth in some foreign land, forever lost.
Sometimes, when the day is calm, we think we can hear the laughter of a child, the click clack and clatter of hobnail boots on the stairs.

She will put the boot back in the eaves. This is where it belongs.




nb. Read Carol Ann Dufy's poem for the last two veterans of the First World War.

25 comments:

PurestGreen said...

What a beautiful story. This is the kind of small moment on which novels are built. To imagine the mother's hand taking out the shoe, walking with it, placing it in the eves, coming down again and standing back to look at the place where it now was. It's just so...human.

Angie said...

Our human read this post and was touched by the wonderful tradition. The boot must return and the story told ....forever.
They say curiosity killed the cat ...well she has it in buckets but only one life sadly...she wonders if your human will ever be able to find out more. Maybe there is a way of finding out who owned/lived in the house 1914-18 or even before.
Take Care xx

Judy said...

A beautiful and sad story and a wonderful tradition.

Rowan said...

I am so glad that She will be putting this little boot back in the eves when all the work is done.

verobirdie said...

This is a very touching story. And well told. The child's spirit must be glad you take so much care, as must his mother's.

The Curious Cat said...

Is that true? What a lovely little tradition....

Carrie said...

What a poignant story.
When so many thousands were lost faceless, nameless and forgotten in the mud,it must feel a real priviledge that your house holds the memory of one of those tragically fallen boys. I'm so glad to hear how well you honour his past, and glad that you shared it with us.
I am left now with those beautiful haunting images of the child running barefoot in the heather with his laughter echoing down through the years.
I'm glad he'll not be forgotten...

Jennifer Rose said...

a sad but lovely story

petoskystone said...

immortality achieved

Lyn said...

Wow that was lovely, it makes the hairs on my arms stand up and a chill run down my spine.
Love
Lyn

Morning's Minion said...

We lived for more than a decade in a big, shabby house that was old by New England standards. There were tales of treasure hidden during the 1860's--America's Civil War. Odd forgotten items turned up, but never the reputed "treasure." When one lives in a place that has sheltered many other lives and times, it seems good to know something of the people who were there.
I am writing down some of the memories of my family's heritage-- perhaps someone later will want to be acquainted with them.

Kitikata-san said...

What a great story! When will the child return to visit you cats?

JC said...

That is an amazing story. I had not heard that one before.

Thanks for sharing it with us ...

quiltcat said...

what a sad and sweet tale. The house must be full of the spirits of many children and cats who have lived there over the years.

basicnorth said...

Thank you Jackie - I'm glad to know the shoe will return to its resting space.

I wish we could use things like this, the story of the ladies who dance at Whitsunday and the story of the "Buddy Poppies" to remind us all of the insanity and the futility of war. As the song says,

"when will we ever learn."

Ikaika said...

Thank you, Jackie and Gingers, for being the loving guardians of tradition and for sharing this beautiful story.


'Kaika and his mom

Jenny said...

So touching, thank you for respecting the tradition, the history of the house and the mother's love.

Sonia ;) said...

I was referred to this site by a fellow blogger. I must say I was totally drawn into the story...Will be back and follow along....I was able to picture along with details...

Smiles,
Sonia ;)

Lydia said...

Brought a tear. I learned from this one and loved it, and will remember it.

moreidlethoughts said...

I, too, thank you for respecting the tradition.And for allowing the Gingers to tell it in their voice.

Deleilan said...

That dry, dusty old boot couldn't have fallen into better hands...

Jean Bradbury said...

Absolutely in tears. What a marvelous story.

Maggie Marsland said...

Fantastic, Jackie. Best piece of short prose I've read in ages. Comment from PurestGreen says it all. I was in floods before I even got to Carol Ann Dufy's poem - great to hear ir read by herself on Radio 4. Thank you. Maggie x

Roberta Zanasi said...

I've read this in a break from work. Thanks for this magic moment! :-)

Kathleen said...

Thank you for sharing this touching tale.