The lucky boy from Swansea who collected footballs

Somewhere on the banks of the river Tawe in Swansea, there once lived a lucky boy. He was about my age, I never knew his name, but he had blond hair and always wore a striped t-shirt and shorts.

When I was growing up, this lucky boy used to collect footballs belonging to my brother and I.

I haven’t thought about him in a long while now, but I pass the river every time I visit some good friends of mine. This week, whilst driving past, I thought back to the time the lucky boy collected our footballs.

It’s the early 1980’s………

In the Swansea valleys there is a little village called Cwmtwrch. The river Twrch, one of the tributaries to the river Tawe runs through it. Next to the river in Upper Cwmtwrch, there is a very special house.

In this house live some of my earliest childhood memories.

This house once belonged to my Grandparents, my Mamgu and Dadcu.

When I close my eyes, I can recall details of that house that are clearer than the room I’m sitting in right now.

Having an older, sports mad brother meant that from a young age I was always being cajoled into playing football, cricket, tennis….. the list goes on.

Coaxed with promises of  ‘We’ll play what you want to play later’, I was ushered outside with a ball of some sorts.

Being a five-year old girl, my football skills weren’t exactly brilliant, and inevitably, the ball would end up going over the white-painted wall, down towards the river.

At this point, my brother and I would scramble over the wall ourselves to see how lucky we’d been.

At best we’d find the football nestled between some rocks. At worst we’d find it slowly making its way downstream.

Next, we would rush down to the riverside armed with big sticks, stones and steely determination that we weren’t going to lose this one.

At this point, my grandmother would appear. I’m sure it must be innate in all mothers and grandmothers alike, that they make an appearance when a child they love is doing something hazardous.

Hazardous that is, through the wiser and more weathered eyes of an adult, but perfectly normal through eyes yet to learn and understand danger.

‘Alan!  Bethan! Get out of that river and get back up here now!!’

Defeated, we would climb back up and stand on the bank of the river, our Grandmother’s arms around us. Helplessly watching as the river, and it’s newly claimed prize snaked out of sight.

Our Grandmother would then always say to us…

Never mind, there’s going to be a lucky boy in Swansea today who’s going to find your football’

 

That, is how I know of the existence of the lucky boy on the banks of the river Tawe.

Despite envying him for most of my early childhood, that lucky boy will always have a special place in my heart.

Grandmothers will always do the best they can for their grandchildren….

OK,

This is my first post and I think I should start by admitting a secret that only two people know. Myself, and my Grandmother.

My secret?…. When I’m out of the house everyday I ask my Grandmother to look after my cats for me. That’s it. That’s the secret.

My grandmother doesn’t live with me, or nearby, I never see her, but I know she’s been. Everyday.

My grandmother died 5 years ago. But I know she’s been. Everyday.

Whilst its liberating to say that out loud, it now forms part of the external me. The part that others can critique, judge and form an opinion on.

It no longer just exists inside me. The part that only I can critique, judge and form an opinion on.

This bizarre daily statement started 18 months ago when I came home and found my little kitten out on the main road, covered in oil from being stuck under next door’s van. I hadn’t planned to go home as I was due somewhere else. I was indicating to go right, but for some reason I turned left for home first.

As I stood at my front door, I heard a pitiful mieow.  On further inspection I found a pair of scared, inky black eyes staring at me from under the van. I called her, she came and I picked her up. She was trembling, dirty and disorientated. I was now trembling, dirty myself from holding her, and confused….

I didn’t understand how she got there, but I did now understand what made me go home first.

15 minutes later the owner of the van jumped in it and drove away. If I hadn’t gone home at that time, then……….. who knows….

Since that day, every morning when I leave the house, I tell my cats that Nanna will look after them today.

I believe it.

With unfaltering faith I believe it.

I have nothing scientific to back this up. Just a spiritual belief, gut instinct, and faith. Faith, the most important of all. Pure faith that it is so.

I’m not naive or stupid enough to think that it provides  immortality for them, but it gives me peace of mind. Peace of mind that even from beyond the grave, Grandmothers will always do the best they can for their grandchildren.

Thank you Nanna…. God bless you xx