In the late summer of 1980 my wife and I were on holiday with our three children, then aged 10, 8 and 7. We stayed with my wife’s widowed mother at her small farm in
County Mayo in the west of . Ireland
We had a spell of good weather, and for a few days the children and I got into the way of going down to the river that marked one of the boundaries of the farm. The water was low and it flowed gently as the stream meandered through the meadows. We gathered pebbles and larger stones and built castles in the shallow water. Fairy castles, goblin castles, castles for kings and queens and whatever. My wife and her mother came down to see what we were doing on the last fine evening before we returned to life and work in
Christmas was approaching and my wife telephoned her mother to talk as they often did. Her mother told her, with a note of sadness in her voice, that after we had left with her grandchildren a few months previously that she had from time to time walked of an evening to the stream. ‘It was so lovely to see their little castles and to remember the children. But then we had a few days of heavy rain. The water rose and all the little castles were washed away’.
Last weekend we had two of our grand-daughters come to stay with us. They are cousins, now aged 7 and 5. They don’t see each other very often as they live over two hundred miles apart. They get on very well together, the younger child, Imogen, being quite advanced and confident for her age. And so they had a grand time together, which included an outing with their grandma and grandpa to the Egg Theatre in
to see one of their lovely children’s productions. Bath
It was unusually fine weather on the Saturday afternoon, and the two girls were out in the garden. Kitty came in and asked “Grandma – can we pick some flowers please? We want to make a flower shop.’ It was getting towards the time when the garden was to be put to sleep for the winter and so yes, of course they could pick flowers.
Within an hour they had adorned the garden seat with little bunches of geraniums and nasturtiums, each with its card showing the price. We took photos of them. Our hearts melted.
The weather changed after they had left us, one to
Taunton and the other to . My wife and I had not the heart of course to tidy away their little shop, and felt a sweet sorrow when the wind and rain scattered the little bouquets and cards as they must surely do. Chelmsford
‘Do you remember that autumn with your mother, when the children built their castles in the stream?’ I asked my wife.
‘I was just thinking of that’ she said quietly, and took my hand and held it tightly.
We both of us were thinking how time can go by in an instant, while memories may never decay. When another 30 or so years have gone by, where, we wonder, might these little ones be placing their flowers then?