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False Memory - The Way It Should Have Been

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
False Memory - The Way It Should Have Been
One of my nephews had a birthday last weekend. He is my sister’s eldest and was the first baby to be welcomed into the immediate family since she herself was born and the anticipated event had filled us with excitement for months. I found myself remembering his birth, which was thirty-six years ago and with pangs of sadness, discovered my false memory.

A Wednesday afternoon and I was at work. All was quiet, just three of us on the premises. The shop was shut, retail staff still observing half day closing. It didn’t affect office staff so we were busily working – actually, the work would have been completed already and we were probably taking it easy and having a laugh until we could lock up and leave. When my sister phoned to say things were happening, baby on the move, help wanted, my colleagues sent me on my way.

I drove to her house, a short distance from where I was on Dickson Road to where she was near Stanley Park. My false memory tells me that I packed her into my dark blue Austin Maxi, but I didn’t have that car anymore. I had a light blue metallic and rust Datsun Violet. I was sent on a quick errand on foot to a nearby shop for camera film – those were the days – and returning to my car, thought my sister was about to give birth there and then as for some reason, the passenger seat was flat. Luckily, I delivered her to the hospital before any other delivery happened and waited with her until her husband arrived from his place of work out of town. I went home.

This is where my recollection of events all goes funny, such a strong memory yet so false. By now it is early evening. I’m sat on the settee in the lounge, knitting a chunky-knit cardigan with thick needles. I’m doing a sleeve which is growing quickly and I’m thinking if I finish this piece before the baby comes, it’s a girl, if not, it’s a boy. I don’t think we had gender reveals at that time. My dad is sitting in his usual armchair, reading every word in the Gazette, sharing a few adverts in the classified section, items for sale, usually cars, and drawing a ring round them with his Parker biro. He’s wearing a denim-blue sweater that I made for him. He checks his yellow tea-cup, disappointed to find it empty. The phone rings in the hall and he goes to answer it. Of course, it was the happy news of the safe arrival of a perfect baby boy.

This is how I remember it. Or is it how I wish to remember it?

My father had been ecstatic to learn he was going to be a grandfather and shared his news with anyone who would listen. A boy would be lovely after raising daughters, but of course a granddaughter would be loved and cherished just the same. Arthritis plagued my father. He blamed it on rolling barrels and lifting cases of bottles in the pubs. He relied on pain relief and some days he was better than others. Out of the blue, he suffered a heart attack. It was serious, but he rallied and after a couple of weeks in hospital, he was well enough to be discharged. The experience had scared him and he would need time to recover. He felt mentally shot and physically weak and told me how he hoped he would be strong enough to hold the baby when it arrived.

He didn’t get the chance. Another heart attack took his life nearly two months before my nephew was born. He was 62.

False Memory

Blue knitted jumper, nice
Subtly fragrant Old Spice.
Another pot of tea?
Empty cup.
I was sure he was there
In his usual chair
With an open Gazette
Close to hand.
On the table, his pen,
Should he need it again,
Circling classified ads,
Things for sale.
I thought he got the phone
But he’d already gone.
My mind playing cruel tricks.
Death’s torment.
PMW 2022
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