Saturday, 5 September 2009

Day Off

It’s my wedding anniversary today.

This time 34 years ago I was taking my dog Cassie for a walk along the prom and explaining to him that I’d be leaving home, but I’d be coming back every day to take him for a walk.

I wish I could speak to that girl now. I think I’d give her a hug.

By Christmas we’d almost killed each other – twice, a friend had been murdered and we were woken up in the middle of the night with the news that my dad had died suddenly.

I wouldn’t say any of that made me grow up. I’d already done that after the events of a couple of years before, but it changed me, changed both of us I think.

I’d started to write a novel about flying saucers, tapping away on my typewriter while our hamster Hamlet whirled round on his wheel up in our attic flat. We’d got him one of those multi storey plastic affairs with tubes and private areas. He used to eat cornflakes with us at breakfast, holding them in his little paws and watching us with his bright eyes.

We didn’t intentionally try to kill each other. Our kitchen was on the landing and he’d cooked our dinner and left the frying pan (well we were teenagers!) on the hob – the still turned-on hob!

By the time we discovered it the landing was filled with smoke. No fire at that point, just a melted frying pan. If a fire had taken hold we would never have got out of the building.

I was reminded of this last week when he set fire to the oven gloves – he’s still the boy I married bless him.

So how did I almost kill him? I cooked a roast dinner and when I carved the chicken it was all pink and watery and raw. “Why can’t you just eat it?” I said, all offended. I thought if we covered it all up with gravy it wouldn’t matter.

I’d cooked successful roasts before – at home with my mum there to guide me. I knew nothing of salmonella and the dangers of undercooked chicken. But he did. He’d been hospitalised with salmonella as a child.

This was meant to be a short post but as always I’ve gone on and on. All I was going to say was that I’m taking today off and we’re going out for a meal and a wander round!

I don’t remember crying much when Dad died. I was numb I suppose. I got on with sorting things out.

Some time in the days that followed I remember going to feed Hamlet and finding him dead in his cage and just falling apart, collapsing in floods of tears.

Once when I was about 7 I came home from school and my dad handed me my recorder and told me to play it as I walked into the front room. He’d rigged up strings all round and as I played a “snake” began to rise from the corner. Oh that’s a bit random isn’t it, but I was thrilled with it.

And I can never celebrate my anniversary without thinking about Dad.


  1. Teresa, your post has brought a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye. Have a happy anniversary. Steer clear of the chicken!

  2. Happy anniversary, Teresa! I'm always thinking about my mum (died 2001) it's amazing how much I've been thinking about her since the run up to my daughter's 5th birthday and going to school - it reminds me so much of me starting school (I was distraught!) as I'd never been away from my mum and there, all of a sudden, I was in a room of strangers and other wailing children! I have never forgotten the trauma!

    Have a lovely day

    Julie xx

  3. Mother - great post but one small point: Your anniversary is tomorrow. :D

  4. Happy Anniversary. It's amazing how interconnected all these things that happen in our lives become. It helps to make sense of it all in a way.

  5. Awwww - happy anniversary! Lovely story about your dad and the recorder. I was worried by the thing about you nearly killing each other till I read on! (Although I think there were times in the early days of our marriage when my other half and I DID nearly kill each other!!). We'll have been married 39 years in a couple of weeks so we obviously got over our murderous feelings somewhere along the line.

  6. Happy anniversary Teresa - whatever the day!

  7. Happy anniversary, Teresa. Your post made me think of my Dad. His birthday was September 7th. He's been gone now for seven years, and I miss him every day.

  8. Conflicting emotions - how very true of life. Your dad sounds lovely and no wonder you miss him. But, a happy anniversary to you. Hope you have a lovely time and I note you are going ot for dinner....Best that way eh?! You might just make it to the next one!

  9. Happy anniversary Teresa.
    It wasn't me on the forum, was it? I'm definitely a woman most days but masquerade as a man on days with a T in them and I get confused and rarely answer to the name of Phil :-)

  10. Happy anniversary Teresa! Loved this post :)

  11. Thank you all me dears for your lovely comments.

    By now you will know that I got my anniversary wrong! Well at least I didn’t forget it I suppose. What a wally! You’d think the daily calendar on my desk might have been a clue!!

    I remember that feeling well, Julie – the terror! I used to run away from school I hated it so much – and being away from my mum. I don’t think you ever stop feeling like that, I miss mine too.

    Oh Olivia – there have been times . . . (congrats in advance for your anniversary).

    Thoughts with you tomorrow, Margaret.

    Yes, MOB – it was much safer eating out!

    I was going to say I’ve never been a man, Lynne, but I have – in the dim and distance past but let’s not go there! Phil is a nice name and suits you perfectly!

  12. No, Teresa - DO let's go there!!!! Tell all!

  13. Happy Anniversary! I was planning to make it a belated congratulations so I was actually pleased you'd got the date wrong :-)

  14. Happy Anniversary.

    Loved the story about the snake - what a lovely dad.


  15. Hi Teresa. I've come late to this one, so congrats belatedly on your anniversary. Interesting thing about grief. I remember remaining completely dry eyed when my Dad died - all through funeral and everything - but for months afterwards breaking down for the stupidest of things eg: computer not working. It takes us all differently I guess. Hope you had a good meal out. x

  16. Thank you Lydia.
    It is weird how grief comes out in all kinds of odd ways isn't it. And we all handle it differently. It usually finds an outlet somehow even if it's not where we expect it.