Sunday, June 7, 2009

Digi Dare 136



FAMILY VALUES 1: CHARITY
Digital Scrapbook page 12cm x 12cm

On first glance of this layout, those who know me may be persuaded that I am now in La-La land, but let me remind you that the Devil is in the detail. This week's Digi-Dares Challange is to journal a conversation; to include a word from that conversation in the title and to incorporate quotation marks somewhere in the layout. This layout is my response to that challenge with the exception of one possibly important factor: I did not actually witness the conversation, it was related to me by my mother and father, on a number of occasions during my childhood and adolescence. No doubt, if I were to remind them of it now, I'm sure that they could relate events to me as if it were yesterday, The story that this layout alludes to has haunted all our lives.

The title on the plaque is: Charity begins at home, and the text on the postcard reads: Uncle Wal stood in front of the fire and said: "well Maree, don't expect charity from us, you've made your bed and now you'll have to lie on it."

The people in the photograph are my mother, my paternal grandparents, my Godfather and his wife (friends of the family whom I knew as Uncle George and Auntie Maureen) and my aunt. My father took the photograph but as he is not here to verify the date, I'm hazarding a guess at mid 1959 because all the ladies are wearing pretty summer frocks and posing with grand dad in the sitting room of the house to which my family moved in 1959. Up until then, my grandmother had run a small ladies and children's clothing and haberdashery shop on the High Street, but just after I was born, she went bankrupt. Nan's generosity was legend. Dad once told me "your grannie was so kind, if a kid came into the shop without a coat on his back, she'd give him one." The sum of money that ruined Nan was really quite small and Grandad could have asked the bank for help but he was a proud man and felt humiliated by the consequences of his wife's kindness: He told me "H.P. (Hire Purchase) was new and all the rage then. If a customer couldn't pay, your grannie would take pity and let them have it on tick." Grandad would have walk the streets to collect overdue repayments, knocking on doors that never opened. One by one, their so-called friends, the beneficiaries of Nan's good nature, all disappeared.

My grandmother was a proud woman who through hard work and determination, had risen from humble beginnings to middle-class respectability. She never recovered from the shame of financial ruin but tried to keep up appearances, working long punishing hours as a waitress at the Council House in Birmingham. I grew up in the shadow of her failure and even as a small child was painfully aware and resentful of the condescension other family members displayed towards my lovely Nan and never grew fond of Uncle Wal who reputedly lectured his sister upon her financial "bed-making".

Should any of you be charmed by the bouquet of pressed flowers in this layout, I must inform you that they are all poisonous. Here's a list of side effects:
Sweet Pea: Upon ingestion, causes permanent paralysis, slow and weak pulse, shallow breathing, pain, weakness, tremors, excitement, and convulsions.
Buttercup: Blistering and ulceration of the mouth when eaten
Larkspur: burning sensation of the mouth and skin, nervousness, headache, weakness, prickling of the skin, low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, depression, weak pulse, and convulsions. If eaten in large quantities, death may occur in less than 6 hours.
Foxglove: Pain in the oral cavity, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, cramping, and diarrhea.
Crocus: Skin irritant and vesicant. Ingestion causes ulceration of the mouth and severe gastroenteritis.
Morning Glory: Hallucinations, panic, detachment, incoherent speech, cold hands and feet, nausea, vomiting, laughing and crying jags, strong body odor, mental disorder, and suicidal attempts.

8 comments:

Kimmie said...

Wow - this brings up many many things to ponder. The first of which is the deprecation women receive (and accept). You were a wise child to see the loveliness of your Nan. In this day and age she might have been on Oprah to discuss the hidden successes of her so-called "failures."

Lukasin said...

Wauw, what a story, devil in the details, very creative with the pressed flowers and their side effects...

Leora said...

this is GREAT!! Thanks for playing along!!

Taluula said...

Such a sad story Lumi so creatively depicted. Beautiful.

Tumble Fish Studio said...

Oh my, your piece is a wolf in a lovely sheep's coat! So pretty and yet so sad and dangerous! I love that kind of deception, irony, trickery in art and stories and even the Twilight Zone! It is lovely as many dangerous things are! You are so talented.

You know some siblings just have an inclination to be mean to the others, especially ones they may feel threatened by. Sad but true. Oh, I bet your Nan had a much richer life than her brother and that's the irony there. She certainly had the love and respect of her beautiful young granddaughter.

Lilaclady said...

wonderful and so creative and thought out, your Grandmother sounds like a wonderful woman, bless her.
Chrystina.

pondlife said...

What a lovely Gran!!

Jan (janmy3rs) said...

What a remarkable story! Your layout caught my eye on flickr and after I saw the postcard in your layout I wanted to know...was this a stock photo or family memorabilia? Now I know!

Amazing how such a gorgeous layout, so elegant and inviting is actually so sad and devious.

Your Nan sounds like a remarkable woman and very deserving of this layout or even her very own special Life Book!

Thanks so much for sharing this story! I hope you've journaled it in your scrapbook for future generations.