Families and Fractures

 Friday 4 November
Arrive at Ma’s early evening after a long journey and some pretty hazardous driving conditions on the M4.  Ma mentions that she feels lucky to have escaped with just a sore toe after tripping over her Henry vacuum cleaner earlier in the day.  Her injury is soon forgotten though as we catch up with each other’s news over dinner which includes a ‘fecking eppel teyrt’ that Ma has served up in honour of our recent trip to Ireland.
Saturday 5 November
The afternoon sees us at a family party to celebrate Stepson One and his new bride’s recent wedding in Grenada.  I’m always a little apprehensive about Tom’s family gatherings, since, despite nearly thirteen years of marriage, there are times when I still feel like a ‘blow in’.  The past is a strange country with shifting borders, strong defences and prone to outbreaks of brief territorial disputes. Today, though, a whole new side to the family has entered the equation.
The new Mrs H, who is of Afro-Caribbean heritage, is a long way from her parents in Quebec, where she grew up, but her aunt, uncle and cousins are here today, along with a big group of friends. At first, both sets of families sit a little awkwardly in their separate groups, but Stepson One and Young Mrs H have done their utmost to recreate the spirit of their wedding day and soon all of us chatting and caught up in the event.  There’s a slideshow of sunny wedding photographs, music from the day and wonderful Caribbean cuisine.  I watch the new couple and their obvious happiness and ponder the nature of families; here’s my stepson and his wife – does that make Young Mrs H, my stepdaughter-in-law? Who knows?  What does it matter?  ‘I’ll see you again,’ smiles Young Mrs H’s uncle when we say goodbye, ‘now that we’re family.’ 
Families, I suppose, are what we make them, but what matters most today are the new bride and groom setting out at the start of their shared journey.  Here’s wishing them many happy years together.
Back at Ma’s, Ma announces that her injured big toe is feeling ‘very hot’ and I don’t need to take a close look at it to see that she’s in pain. Ma agrees that if it doesn’t get better overnight (some hope!) she’ll think about going to hospital.
Sunday 6 November
I pop into Ma’s room to see how she’s doing to find her fully dressed and looking very smart. 
‘Still hurting then?’ I say.
‘Probably a fuss about nothing,’ says Ma, showing me a black, hugely-swollen toe. 
In A&E there is a mass outbreak of foot injuries, but Ma is shuffled through the system in record time, emerging with her big toe strapped up like a sausage plait (which we promise not to bite) and an appointment for the fracture clinic.
Tom points out that it was after last year’s trip to Ireland that Ma fell and fractured her shoulder and arm so badly.  Indeed, she’ll be celebrating the anniversary with her latest fracture.
‘Next year,’ Tom says, mildly, ‘we’ll go somewhere different.’

Painting is ‘Coast near Dinas’ by Tom Tomos


Teresa said…
I love Tom's sense of humour ;).

I thought it was around this time of the year but she got "lucky" this time and last year she was so bruised and much more limitated with the 2010 hurt.

Praying for her to heal soon.

Fennie said…
Yes, if the toe heals, will the heel toe? Or is that a groan too far? I enjoy these little tales but am still hoping you will be telling the one about you getting chased and bitten by the hounds of hell (heel?) again while running through the farmyard and steeplechasing the tractors. It's the sort of tale I imagine you could tell at a family wedding when people are trying to put their toes in the water. Montreal is a most beautiful city - maybe you'll get a chance to go there and your next novel will be set among the sycamores and the hockeymums. Maple syrup on the apple tart. Toe-dle-loo!
Shirley Wells said…
Oh no. I hope the toe heals very quickly.

I'm glad she was able to serve up the fecking eppel teyrt in honour of the recent trip to Ireland. :)
Flowerpot said…
Good for Tom - do hope the toe heals soon Chris. Am goig to see my mum this weekend and expect a similar type few days!
Debs Carr said…
Laughing at Tom's comment.

I'm also a step-parent, but we haven't got as far as weddings yet.

Hope your Ma's poor toe heals soon.
Elizabethd said…
...and then later you become a 'stepgrandmother in law' or something....
Frances said…
Hello Chris, and best wishes to your Mom and her toe. And to the newly married couple and, of course, to Tom, whose painting I do very much like.

Is it not strange how complex are plots of the true stories that life tosses at us?

Fennie's comment has definitely made me smile. I think that he, and your other commenters feel the strength of your writing and appreciate the way that you can creatively convey to us these Home Thoughts.

elizabethm said…
Ah yes to the bringing families together. Mine is considerably larger and noisier than ians and I suspect he sometimes has your sensation after nearly seventeen years of marriage. Good luck to the newly weds and to your ma and her toe!
Cottage Garden said…
I remember your Ma's injury last year! Hope her toe gets better soon and that she doesn't make it three in a row.

Good to catch up with your last few posts Chris ... I've been absent from so many of my favourite blogs of late ... always a joy to come over here.

Pondside said…
Yes, I think another holiday destination is called for, for the sake of your mum's bones. How about Quebec....or just hop on a train and travel a few days beyond, to Vancouver?
Chris Stovell said…
Thank you Teresa.

Will have to tell a few more tales and get paid for it to make it to Montreal, Fennie...

Yes, Shirley, her spirit's still intact, thank goodness!

Hope your visit to your mother found her well, Fp.

Debs, I'll let you know what you can call yourself come the weddings, if I can work it out first!

Elizabethd - quite!!

Frances, thanks for all your kind comments.

Elizabethm - it's all part of that give and take of families coming together, isn't it?

Jeanne, thanks for your kind words and apologies for not being a frequent visitor myself - too much going on all the way round it seems, but I hope to catch up soon.

Pondside, I would truly love to...

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