Monday, March 30, 2009

Mrs Crowther's House

Ah yes, here we have a lovely blue Florida sky and some palm trees. Unusual architecture for Florida, mind you.

Okay, it isn't quite Florida. In fact it's Leeds, just across the side road from our house. Of course, I love the palm trees, always have done as I've watched them grow over the years.

A very pleasant couple live there and I remember the husband calling me over to say that his first child had been born. That was thirty-something years ago. The first-born now has children of his own.

But to me, that couple are the new kids on the block, for the house where they live is, to me, Mrs Crowther's house.

Mrs Crowther was a very very old lady who lived there when I was a very very small child. I used to go across with my Grandma - my mother's mother - who lived with us. Grandma was a tiny, feisty redhead and she kept an eye on Mrs Crowther, and I went with her to Mrs Crowther's house quite often, to help her to do it.

Mrs Crowther's house was very dark and full of carved ivory - I think she had been born in India. She did have a fridge, but my Grandma was very disapproving of its contents, most of which were rivalling the ivory in their antiquity.

"This bacon's green," said Grandma, waving it under my nose. "I'm putting it in the bin."

"It's fine," said Mrs Crowther, fruitlessly. "I ate some of it yesterday."

Into the bin it went. There was never much point in arguing with Grandma.

One day Mrs Crowther started talking to me about her own death, which she thought might happen sooner rather than later.

"It won't matter," she said. "Because I'm ready. I've had a good life."

Even at that very young age - I must have been only about five - I had no religious beliefs and couldn't believe in an afterlife, though I wished that I could (and still do). The idea, therefore, that someone could be ready to die, shocked me beyond belief.

I remember asking Grandma about it on the way home - - which was a very short way, consisting merely of crossing the road.

"Sometimes, when people are very old, they've just had enough of living, and they'd be happy to die," she said.

I couldn't imagine it.

Mrs Crowther died soon afterwards - I don't think I was told anything about her death, but I remember we drew all the curtains at our windows, because that was what was done in those days if someone died.

Grandma lived for many more years. She died in 1991, age 93. She was very deaf, but completely alert mentally. I don't know what she died of - "old age" is probably the best description.

I think her daughter - my mother, who will be 85 in April - is probably older now than Mrs Crowther was then. She's not ready to die yet, oh no, not when there's gardening to be done and beaches to be visited.

And the Communist, who was eighty-five, and who died last December, was most certainly not ready to die. As my brother and I said at his funeral, he didn't want a funeral. He wanted a trip to Tenby, a seafood salad and a false leg.

So I think that, of all the oldies I've known - and there have been plenty - Mrs Crowther has been the only one who was prepared to go gently. I have a very good memory of a lot of my early childhood, and I'm pleased that I can still remember her, because she was always kind to me.


Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:51 am  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

Such lovely simplicity or do I sound like a teacher marking a bright pupil's essay? Well done Daphne! Sorry.

12:52 am  
Blogger Silverback said...

What a lovely story, Daphne. I wish I had such a vivid memory. Hell I wish I had ANY memory.

My mum was ready to die. In fact she was ready to die after my dad died and we were all amazed she 'carried on' for another 17 years.

I think she just waited until she felt she had become a burden to us and then she simply let go of life.

Maybe she chats with Mrs. Crowther these days.

1:14 am  
Blogger Daphne said...

YP - thank you, I appreciate your comment - I do try never to use a fancy word where a simple one is better, and I'm glad you noticed!
Silverback - ahh yes, I know you've said that your mum was ready to die because of her closeness to your dad and I think that's very touching. I hope she DOES chat with Mrs Crowther who was another kind lady.

8:36 am  

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