Wannabe Martha

Still trying to figure out which Martha

Time Well Spent and Remembered

on October 24, 2013

224 Rue de Rivoli, Paris, is home to the legendary Librairie Galignani, “the first English bookshop established on the continent”. We shopped there a lot. It’s where I acquired “Anne of Green Gables” and “Daddy LongLegs”; where my mother purchased her Mills & Boons romances and Jean Plaidy novels;  where my brothers found their Asterix comics and books about tanks and jets. My mother often took us there during the week in summer time. We would make our selections and then head over to the Jardin de Tuileries to read and play before going home. It was a very good life.

On one particularly memorable trip, my mother purchased Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. No side trip to the Jardin that day – it was straight home to dive into this treasure. We get home; dropped our gear and headed to the living room. I can still see the four of us sitting on the floor, leaning against the couch: Me, Paul, my mother, Michael. She cracked open the book and began to read. The afternoon passed and evening came. At some point, one of us must have turned on a light. Finally we hear the front door open. Its Dad home from work – had to be at least 7pm. Apartment dark but for one end table light in the living room; no dinner started; all of us still on the floor. Mother stopped reading and we look up. There he was, just standing there looking at us – he had his briefcase still in his hand, hat in another and his suit jacket was over his arm. Mike piped up “Mike TeeVee just got shrunked, Dad. Wanna hear?”

My dad just kind of smiled and asked, “Isn’t anybody hungry?” We all were, but nobody wanted to fess up. We needed the rest of that story. My mother made a movement to get up off the floor, but my Dad just shook his head. “Do we have any ground beef?” “Yes.” “Well, looks like we’re having Dad Burgers tonight. Who wants to help?” We all jumped up – Dad was making burgers, a rare treat – my mother was a wonderful cook but she couldn’t make a hamburger to save her life. I set the table with Paul. My mother was finding rolls and some salad and the like. Mikey helped Dad pat the meat into shape. During dinner we all brought him up to speed on the story and afterwards he had my mother bring the book to the kitchen to finish reading while he and my brothers and I cleaned up. At some point we left the kitchen and ended up in his study. He was in his big easy chair with Paul and Mike in his lap. My mother and I were on the floor leaning against it while she finished the last chapter.

By the time she closed the book it was very late. Paul and I stumbled to our bedrooms, my mother following us. My dad carried a nearly asleep Mike. We got into our pajamas and climbed into bed. My parents kissed us goodnight. And I remember hearing them laughing and my mother saying “I can’t understand it, once I got started I couldn’t seem to find a place to stop.”

(There are things I have to remember because there is nobody else to remember them anymore and they’ll be gone if I don’t. My nephews won’t know about their Dad as a kid, or the uncle they never knew. I have to be the one to tell them and it’s bitter.)


5 responses to “Time Well Spent and Remembered

  1. FuzzieWuzzie says:

    Maeve, this one is a personal treasure. When I come here, I never know what I’ll find.

  2. Maeve says:

    Fuzzie, I’m glad you liked it. It’s one of my very favorite memories of my family. And it became a silly little family joke that when my Mother announced a trip to the bookstore, Dad would casually ask if he should plan to make burgers.

  3. Morvena says:

    That was a wonderful story Maeve, thank you for sharing it. Roald Dahl wrote some of the best children’s books, in my opinion 🙂

    On a slightly more serious note, it’s good that you keep the memories alive for your daughters and nephews. There are a number of people in my family and my husband’s family that I never got the pleasure to meet/don’t remember well so it’s always nice to hear others speak of them and tell stories like this one; until I can (hopefully) meet them in Heaven, the stories and pictures will have to do.

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