Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Is it wise to go back? Tricia McGill

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For years I have been writing time-travels, and repeatedly admitted I would love to go back to certain times to learn if things were really as the historians and archaeologists have assured us they were. I am in the process of writing the life story of one of my sisters, the one who was closest to me throughout my life. I began this project as an act of love and admiration, but have to admit that there have been moments when I have been so sad and so filled with melancholy that I have to wonder just why I began. Well, no I don’t really wonder why, because I know I made her a promise. I was the one who encouraged her to learn how to use a computer, and I was the one who then encouraged her to write about her life. Her finished, very abridged, version took all of twenty pages so as you can imagine it has been a huge project to turn it into a novel.

She and I probably spent more of our lives together than any of our other eight siblings so were with each other through the good and the bad, the sad and the happy. This is where I have become unstuck as they say, for the sad times are the ones that bring me to tears, and leave me wondering if I should have started this particular journey. But believe me there were more than enough happy times to compensate. I guess most people feel the same melancholy as I at times as we reminisce about times past.

Our early lives were so far removed from the lives lived by the young of today, with no television, no phone, no way of contacting, other than by letter. How we managed to keep in touch with our very large extended family would puzzle and amaze the kids of today. To invite someone to a party or a wedding, a letter had to be written. In the old days there must have been a very good postal service, as a reply was usually received with a week. Thank heaven for hand written letters, they hold so much history.

But then again, those were the days of calling in for a visit when you could be sure that someone was at home. No one I know seems to do that anymore. A phone message or a text has to go to them to inquire if it is all right to pop over for a while. The days of surprises are over. I can well recall how much I loved coming home from Sunday school to find one or the other of my older siblings and their families had popped in unannounced.

In 1998 two of my older sisters decided to go back to England to visit the remaining family and friends. Of course they asked, and expected, me to accompany them on this trip, more than likely because of me being younger. I refused, partly because I hate flying and after my only flight back to England in 1975 swore that I would never go through that torture again. They couldn’t understand my reticence, but deep down I knew the reason. I had no wish to see the changes in people I knew and loved. I preferred to remember them as they were the last time I saw them. On my sisters’ return, I couldn’t believe it when they said they now understood what I meant. It was worse for the eldest who had not been back since she left the shores of home in 1949 to begin life in a new country. She left behind brothers in their twenties and went back to grumpy old men way past their prime.

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