Oh, I remember that…

I had an email from my contact at the nursing home telling me about a new memory project called ‘I Remember That’ that was starting about the time I return at the beginning of next month. The title had me remembering all those years ago when my aunt would come out with those words….admittedly after some subtle prompting by us with words or pictures…..but we were glad it had stirred something in her mind.

(At that time I belonged to a (now defunct) ’families and carers’ group where to ease the strain we wrote and shared pieces online – I hope you don’t mind me sharing another one from 2009)

Remembering the past

Talking to my Aunt the other day I was asking her what she remembered – its a hard question for her to answer some days but for some reason on that day she was clear in her mind about one thing.

She remembered her older sister Betty and how she made her laugh.

They were raised in India in house a house full of adults. Along with their Mother and Father there were also four spinster aunts – sisters of their Mother.

None of the servants had children they could play with so as well as sisters, they were playmates and also constant companions to each other.

“Oh, I remember that dolly”

Being priviledged they were sent off to boarding school at a young age, luckily not back to England as so many expat children were but somewhere in India ( she doesn’t remember where exactly) and were able to go ‘home’ for the holidays – so whenever Pam felt lonely or afraid Betty was there to comfort and make her laugh. 

It was so lovely (and rare) to hear her talking of this life she led so long ago, dances were a way of life, Betty was the fun one attracting lots of admirers while Pam being a quiet one would sit on the sideline. 
They both married officers in the 9th Gurkhas Regiment so continued to live a privileged life as adults. They stayed in India till after the war and then returned to England to a very different lifestyle. 

She was so clear in her descriptions of life in those days it was almost as if she was reliving them – till she came to the part of migrating to Australia in the early 1950’s. 

Then nothing came – she just stopped talking.
I assume ‘cose there was no Betty – who had remained in England – to talk about.
Maybe I’ll be able to get her to remember those times again but I never know from one day to the next whats going on inside her head.

As a youngish widow she managed several trips ‘home’ to England over the years to see her beloved Betty – the sister who even as an adult had a way of making her forget her troubles and laugh. She recognised Betty in this photo of the two of them enjoying a special moment of laughter but had no idea where, when, or why.

“Oh, there’s Betty”

Betty on the left and A Pam on the right

Can you see the special bond they had with each other – the love in the eyes and the smiles on their faces? Hopefully she can still remember those moments inside her head even if she can’t talk about them

Aunty Pam (Pamela 1923 – 2011)

9 thoughts on “Oh, I remember that…

  1. One by one, we either forget distinctly the facts or they are so vivid, we are back there.
    A decade or so I went back to my hometown with my brother and thought we’d be there for days…but we had got around town…seeing the roads and the tiny distances within one day…

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  2. That’s very nice. I often wonder how people transitioned to England from colonies like India and African countries. It must have been such a culture, and weather, shock.

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  3. I volunteered at a nursing home for 9 years. they loved my photos. I made books of photos and would walk the halls and stop and sit by one person and put the book on their lap, as they looked at the photos, it stirred memories, and they would talk about things in their past lives. these were photos of historical village, museums, antiques. there was a woman from Poland who never talked. she had Alzheimer’s. Each time her daughter came to visit, she found me listening to stories that her mother told me. she asked me how I got her to talk. I said I don’t ask her questions, I show her pictures and she tells me about things from the past. Once I showed her a photo of a German Shepherd dog, she started telling me about the dogs they had in poland that were trained Guard dogs, which made her take me to the wall where there was a photo of a castle door, with a family on the steps. Her family with the dogs. there was a horse inside the house with it’s head peering out. I said a horse in the house and she launched into a logn story.
    all this to say, photos are perfect and now that we have ipads and phones, no need to print photos and put in a book. the whole world at the finger tips.

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  4. What a lovely idea for a project.
    Nice to know that your Uncles (by marriage) served in the Gurkha Regiment – it was my Dad’s regiment too!
    There were a lot of lovely boarding schools in the hill stations in India, run mostly by the British. Most of them still exist, run mostly by Church organisations.
    Thank you for sharing this, Cathy. Enjoyed reading this.

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