Second childhood memory – 1961
My mum (no this isn’t her) was really good at fixing people’s hair. It helped her to earn a little extra money. One evening she worked long and hard styling her friend Stella’s hair. It looked beautiful when it was finished, much like the photo to the left. Stella was going to some fancy ball and couldn’t afford to go to a salon so my mum offered to help.
I watch as my mum back combed and teased to get the desired effect. The whole time Stella talked about what a lovely evening she was going to have. There were tears in my mum’s eyes, she would dearly have liked to go to the ball too. My mum never went anywhere. Even at the young age of four, I could see the sadness in her eyes.
Stella wore a beautiful (borrowed) ice blue dress, nipped in at the waist and flaring wide to her knees.
“Enid, don’t you have a pearl necklace? I have no jewellery and a pearl necklace would finish off my outfit nicely.”
“It was a gift from my father, you can borrow it if you promise to be careful,” my mum said and then went upstairs to get the necklace from its box. I never knew my mum’s father, he died before I was born.
“Oh this will look lovely.” Stella said as my mum handed the pearls to her.
My mum smiled weakly as she put the finishing touches to Stella’s hair. Stella tossed the pearls from one hand to the other as though they were a toy. I wanted to tell her to stop. They were precious, irreplaceable, but I was just a child, who would listen to me.
“Your hair is done, look in the mirror, tell me how you like it.” my mum said. I could tell she was nervous, she couldn’t take her eyes off the pearls. “Shall I fasten the pearls around your neck?”
Stella stood and looked in the mirror above the fireplace. “Oh what a good job, don’t I look lovely.” She did indeed look very nice. “Yes please fasten the pearls for me.” Stella said as she tossed them into air one more time. I followed them with my eyes as the went high above my head, almost in slow motion. They started to descend and Stella put her hand out to catch them. Her judgment was slightly off and they didn’t fall into her hand as expected. She made a grab for them, snagging the clasp. The string of pearls was almost thirty years old, it snapped……
Pearls hit the floor and rolled in every direction. The treasured sweet sixteen gift from a beloved father to his youngest daughter was no more. I fell to the ground and gathered up as many pearls as I could see, the rolled in every direction, some lost forever.
“Oh no, now what am I going to wear around my neck?” Stella asked.
My mum showed her to the door and told her to have a lovely evening before coming back inside and dropping on her knees next to me, hoping to retrieve the memories of her father from the floor.
“I’m sorry mum, I love you.” I said, hoping it would help stop the tears that rolled down her face.
“I love you too pet.” she said and kissed me. “I love you very much.”
Memories are bitter sweet. Check my first novel, a German Ghost Story.