Monday, 12 November 2012

Words and Memories

My Granda was an avid reader. He read everything and anything, from westerns, Dick Francis, Jeffrey Archer and John le Carre to my Grandma's "Woman's Weekly" and Mills and Boon romances. Basically, if it had pages and print he would read it. Christmas and birthdays were easy; a book, or two, would always be received warmly.

After a minor stroke he lost the ability to recognise words on the page. His loss was sudden and led to angry outbursts from this usually mild-mannered man. On one occasion he threw a book across the room claiming it was impossible to read as it was all in Russian. 

It was heartbreaking to witness his anger and distress as he struggled to understand. Why had we given him books in a language he could not read? 

But would it be worse to gradually lose your spoken language, and to be aware of it? With every misremembered word, to know that your means of communication was leeching away? 

 I first came across this work by Marc Nash as a written piece in his collection of flash fiction 16FF and although my Granda's speech remained perfect, this immediately made me think of him. Language - whether written, spoken or signed - is wonderful. How do we cope if it is taken away from us?

Visit Marc's blog at Sulci Collective


  1. Thanks Denise. I wrote this very quickly when my Mother in Law was declining rapidly under the assault of brain tumours. I was guilty at the fictional and playful nature of this piece borne out of a real life horror, but the condition did seem to hint at where language resides and how it functions in that. It remains one of my favourite pieces, but one drenched in sadness as ultimately the illness claimed her. :-(

    Marc x

    1. I completely understand the mixture of emotions, death and humour and guilt - common bedfellows. I love it because it has such compassion behind it.