Tea with Phyllis

Recollections of My Grandmother


“There was Teddy, Bertie, Harold, Nellie, Lilly, Mabel, Myra, Olive and me, Phyllis; there were nine of us in all, and others that didn’t live.”

I can hear my Grandmother’s voice, her thick Yorkshire accent, reciting the names of her many siblings. I’d wake up early and creep downstairs, where I knew I’d find my Grandma having a “spot of tea” before sunrise.

“We’d get in real trouble, lots, for ripping up the bed sheets to make ringlets in our hair.”

“We lived behind the gas houses, where we’d play in the rubble wearing dusty masks left from the war.”

When we are young, we can sit and listen to the same stories over and over again. Then we get older and don’t want to listen anymore. We want to make our own stories. But what we don’t understand then, is that their stories are part of our stories. It’s those memories that stand as our foundation that we build upon.

She’d walk me to town holding tightly to my little hand, squeezing it every so often like a heart beat. I think it may have been a nervous twitch, an involuntary squeeze, but it made me feel safe; she’s got me. Now I have my own kids and it’s something I do with them. We call it pumping the love, because that’s what that squeeze always felt like to me, love pumping through my veins into my heart. Yes, I bet it was involuntary just the way unconditional true love is.


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