Remember When?

When I grew up in England things were very different then,
I thought it might be fun to play a game “Remember when?”

In emergencies we had to find a helpful neighbour home
Because so very few of us owned a telephone!
Some folks were lucky enough to have electric light,
Which made things easier in the middle of the night!
With no central heating, and usually one coal fire,
There was a pastime of which I'd never tire,
Seeing pictures in the flames, imagination went wild,
And became a game for an introspective child.

I remember chilly bedrooms that made me shiver and shake -
Worse still, the sheets Mum ironed before the beds she'd make.
We used hot water bottles to warm the icy bed,
But I would pull the covers right up over my head
I remember begging her to leave my room alone,
Because those white smooth sheets just chilled me to the bone,
“I'd rather have the wrinkled ones; they feel warmer to me” -
But mother never listened to my impassioned plea!

Many houses had no bathroom - oh what a dreadful lack!
So even in bad weather they had to go out back.
My home was blessed to have a bathroom up the stair,
Where mother put clean laundry in the cupboard there to air
Because it had a cistern that hot would always stay;
It took me years to understand how it got that way!
A water heater was installed behind the kitchen fire
And as the temperature would rise it sent the water higher.
Water was in short supply, of that we were all aware,
And so the same bath water, my mother and I would share.
While she enjoyed the feeling of extra steaming heat,
When she was done I cautiously would test it with my feet
And even then sometimes it felt a bit too hot for me,
But I enjoyed the warmth so very thankfully.
It surely beat an old tin tub on the kitchen floor
Where you bathed so hurriedly with one eye on the door!
The bathroom downspout was outside leading to a drain,
So we caught the soapy water to be reused again.
Even kitchen dish water was routinely reserved
To help our lawns and gardens stay lovely and preserved.

I remember with much horror, the days of fear and war
And we prayed ever since it would not happen any more.
The bombs, the fires, food rationing, the awful loss of life,
Times of prayer and longing for the ending of the strife.
I also think of the wartime project Dig For Victory,
When we were told our gardens more useful had to be.
Sadly I uprooted all the flowers so very fair,
Replacing them with vegetables and fruit trees there.
It was heartbreaking for me to have to desecrate
All that my late father spent long years to create.
What overwhelming joy we showed in 1945;
Finally the war was over and we were still alive!

I remember too, how different was our local grocery store.
We carried shopping baskets and went often back for more.
Because refrigerators were owned by very few,
A meat safe in the cellar was the best that we could do.
It was a wire mesh cupboard where butter, milk and meat
Were stored for short periods to keep them fit to eat.

I remember, with nostalgia, that year nineteen-forty-eight
When life changed so suddenly and we could emigrate.
It was with much excitement and trepidation too
When Mom and I left England to start a life anew
In this great land of Canada where loved ones we would greet.
It was the first time my mother's family I'd meet.
My mother and her sisters met with many joyful tears
For they had not seen each other for over forty years.
I realized their love although unseen for far too long,
While I felt sure here was a place I finally did belong.
Not only blood relations, but spiritually too,
We were one in God's family, which brought us joy anew.

Many things we can remember and emotionally recall,
There are joys and sorrows, we look back upon them all,
But throughout the decades, one thing that never alters
Is God our Heavenly Father whose love never falters.
He will not ever fail us, nor leave us on the way;
He loves and keeps His children, and blesses, every day.

Honoria A. Groves