I was having coffee in a pub with my friend Ann, just back from her house in France. We’ve been good friends since we started teaching together decades ago - two very green optimists with a shared sense of the ridiculous.
Ann had been telling me about the Midlands-based grown-up daughter of a friend of hers who lived in France. Despite severe disability this daughter is a vibrant and interesting person who lives a full and connected life. She’d written a book about an aspect of Midlands history and had asked Ann if I wouldtake a look at it and comment. I was pleased to do this. It looks like a very good piece of work and has great possibilities.
Then Ann said to me, ‘It’s like Rose, Wendy. Do you remember Rose?’
I scrambled through the years in my mind and remembered Rose again. She too suffered from severe disability. She was tiny for her age but clever, vivacious and witty. Her home-teacher – two afternoons a week - for a year or so,. I was a young woman with small children at home and accepted this job so that I could earn some money to pay someone to clean my house so I could write.
In my years with Rose I wrote my first published book, a young adult book called Lizza, published by Hodder & Stoughton.
Visiting Rose in her two up and two down house in a side-street very much furthered my own education. Teaching her, I learned something new every day.
Rose’s mother adored her. She was the centre of the household. She was clever and witty, often talking like a forty year old, echoing her mother. She eagerly grabbed any new learning experiences I offered. She was good company
A joy to remember.
When Ann rushed away I stayed a while and scribbled my memories of Rose in my ever present notebook. I later copied it ‘in neat’ in my precious blue notebook.
Here it is
The room, with its blazing fire
is too hot. The mother hovers.
Rose sits in her chair
tough as old boots.
Her eyes sparkle, she wears
her dense black hair
swept back. Her almond skin is flawless,
her fragile hands like fern fronds.
An old head on young shoulders.
A sturdy intellect. Books galore.
Best on wheels. Uncomplaining
queen of the house.
Being twelve, looking nine,
talking like a thirty year old
Rose is an old soul
Sharing her unique world view.
Her mother says, ‘Teenagers! Our Rose
needs some new clothes.
She’s growing right out
of all that children’s stuff.'
©Wendy Robertson 2016