It was some time later, I can remember a cold morning. My mother saw my father off. They tried not to wake me up. Dad and I had already said our goodbyes the night before, but I did wake up. It was like the reverse of Christmas. The day was very important, not because I would have heaps of presents and new toys, but I was going to lose one of my parents. Grownups try to make you feel good. They tell you it will only be for a short time, but to a child a short time is seconds or minutes, not weeks or months. Years don’t even bear thinking about.
Even though I promised I would be a good boy and sleep, part of my brain was alert, waiting for the moment when he would leave. I woke up. There were sounds which weren’t part of the usual morning routine. It wasn’t the muffled clanking sound of my mother cleaning out the grate and loading it up with fresh coal. It wasn’t the sound of the table being laid nor breakfast being made. No. There were sounds, but they were too muffled, like somebody trying very hard to be quiet. Then a sound. It was the front door opening. The unmistakable grinding sound of my father’s boots, and the much quieter gentle pad of my mother’s slippers on the path.
I looked out of my bedroom window. I tried not to move the curtains too much. I didn’t want my mother to think I had woken up and seen my father go. I had promised. Grownups have an extra sense that children don’t know about until they get older. I am sure both of them knew I was awake and had opened the curtains oh so slightly. I was trying so hard to be brave and not cry, but I wasn’t going to see my Dad for ages, he was going to be so far away. Did I cry? Of course I did. Only an unloved or unwanted child could feel no emotion.
Anyway off he went on his troop ship, the Nevasa, if memory serves me well. Eventually Mum got postcards or letters. If there were postcards, I guess he addressed them to me. It’s the sort of thing grownups do for kids. I also expect he was telling me to look after Mum as I was the only man left at home. It’s the sort of thing grownups do for kids. I know the ship docked for a while in Malta.
He arrived in Aden and began the process of getting accommodation for the family as well as performing his duties. I’m sure the Air Force would not be heartless and not make it easy for a married man to make everything ready for his wife and their, then, only child. Nevertheless, there must have been a lot to do, and he did make it special for me as you will soon learn.
© 2012 Gwailo54