A few months ago I was amazed and delighted to receive a message on Facebook from the son of one of my childhood friends. Marilyn and I had grown up together in a coal mining village in the English Midlands.
This is the row of colliery houses where we lived; tiny two-up, two-down houses with no bathroom and an outside toilet.
As you can imagine, it was a very close-knit community. After the 2nd World War, times were hard and there was food rationing, so it was not uncommon for a neighbour to come knocking on the door asking to borrow a cup of sugar or flour, or any other commodity they found themselves short of to bake a cake or prepare a meal. They would then stay for a chat and maybe a cup of tea, and so strong bonds were formed. The men worked at the local colliery, and it was there that my dad, a young man from Dutch Indonesia who had served in the Royal Navy during the war and afterwards met and married my mom in London, found a job as an electrician. It must have been quite a culture shock for him, as the war had interrupted his studies and he suddenly found himself in a strange country, not speaking the language and needing to work to support a wife with a baby on the way. My mom and Marilyn’s mom were expecting their babies within a couple of months of one another and became great friends. After our family moved away from the area, they visited one another, and still kept in contact after my parents emigrated to South Africa in the 1970’s. After a few years, my mom didn’t get the usual Christmas card, and her subsequent letters went unanswered, which made her very sad, and she often wondered what had happened to her friend. I found out from Mark, Marilyn’s son, that when his gran moved house, my mom’s last letter containing her address had somehow got lost, so they completely lost touch. Apparently they often spoke of our family with great fondness and wished they could make contact again. Sadly, Marilyn’s mom passed away a few years ago, but I’m sure she would be delighted to know that her daughter and I finally met up again after 45 years.
When I got out of our car outside her house, she was standing at the door to greet me, and we both had tears in our eyes. Hubby and I stayed in the area for two days, and we spent happy times together catching up on family news and sharing precious memories from our childhood.
In my next post, I’ll tell you about my nostalgic visit to the pit where my dad worked for so many years.
Wishing you all a great weekend.