Saturday, January 3, 2009

Thank you, Elaine!

A True Story

I walked home from school;
Not wounded, not bereaved,
Just a drab English schoolgirl.
Five years of war
Had meant no clothing coupons for

And I was certainly frivolous.
I was fourteen.
My mother had lengthened
 My older sister's dark green dress,
With strips
Of different colours at the hem,
As I grew.
I had been wearing it 'for best'
For three years now.
Otherwise I wore my navy-blue serge skirt,
White shirt and lisle stockings;
My school uniform.

Was it any wonder I dragged my satchel
Behind me
As I entered the house?
And then I stopped......


Where are you now, Elaine?
You must be an old lady,
Like me.
I wonder if you even remember sending
The Food Parcel.
You were on the other side of the world
In America.

It seemed a place of magic
Untouched by War.
You were, briefly,
My Pen Pal.
And you had sent me a dress!

Never again in my whole life
Would I see mauve gingham
Without reliving
The frisson of excitement
That I felt when I first saw it.

My Mother had opened the Food Parcel
And she had found the dress
Carefully packed
On top of the biscuits and canned fruit.
She had laid it over the back of the arm-chair.

I circled it,
I think I stopped breathing.
Was it......?
Could it........?

Immediately, I fantasised
If this glorious object were really  mine,
I would wear it with sky-blue sandals,
 And my skinny white legs would tan.
And boys would look at me
And realise that I was beautiful!

My mother came into the room.
'Is it for…..?' I said.

It was!

It was crisp cotton,
With a frilled square neck-line,
And a skirt that flared slightly.
It was the most beautiful dress in the world.
Sixty-three years later
I say

'Thank you, Elaine.'


Patty said...

What a beautiful and sad story. Yes, I was at a different place, but we still heard so much of what was happening on the other side of the world. We saw so much in the Newsreels at the movies. I bet you would love to read
She sometimes writes things that happened to her during the war before her Grandparents and her were able to escape to America.

Things were rationed here in the states, my Father was in the Navy, and Uncle was a gunner riding in the bubble of an airplane, they both came home alive. A Great Uncle was never found, only his dog tags, they assumed he was blown up with his tank.

Thanks for sharing your story. I do hope you and Elaine were able to remain friends over the years.

Happy New Year.

me said...

oh, that's a wonderful story!! penpals are fabulous....lovely elaine :)

Winifred said...

What a lovely story. I wonder if she realised just how much it would mean to you.

Kat said...

How wonderful to receive a present from a friend. Each line in the 'thank you' poem bubbles with joy.

These days penpals are replaced with blogpals... and these kinds hardly send presents :)))))

"....And boys would look at me
And realise that I was beautiful!.." :))) one had to drill it into the heads of boys then ?

Sherry Blue Sky said...

This is a lovely story. People are so great! I can just imagine your happiness when you proudly wore your new dress next day!

kaykuala said...

Brenda Ma'am,
It moved me. It really did. After 63 years and you can still remember! All because of the desire to say 'thank you' that you had felt before which is now triggered off by the word 'thankfulness'.

I sincerely hope Elaine is around to see your poem. I pray that she does, wherever she is. Where are you Elaine?

( Elaine may have related this episode to someone else and hopefully that person reads your poem) Just pray, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving it may just be answered!

Brother Ollie said...

Your narrative really captures the theme.

Anonymous said...

That is a lovely and amazing story, Brenda. Growing up in pot-war Northern Ireland , I can empathize with the longing for something new and bright...something just for oneself. How thrilled you must have been, indeed!
So glad you shared this with us...:)


Paul Andrew Russell said...

What a lovely story, Brenda.

We never know how a small kindness we do for someone else can affect them in such an intense way as you were affected by that one act of kindness.

Linda Bob Grifins Korbetis Hall said...

moving story.
blessings 4 her.

Carrie Van Horn said...

Brenda this is lovely and moving...i love it! :-)