Thanks go to Willow who organises and hosts this meme. To read more Magpies please click here.
They had painted the house the year their son joined the army – he had helped them during his final leave before embarkation. The colour was not quite what they had intended and they had wanted to repaint immediately but he had persuaded them to postpone. ‘We’ll do it next time I’m home,’ he’d said and they had agreed. Instead, they tied yellow ribbons round the trees in the front garden, constant reminders, if ever they needed them, of his absence.
The day they were told that he was missing in action, believed killed, they had gone out and tied fresh ribbons to the trees. Until they had a body to bury they would not believe their boy was gone. And so, when the ribbons tattered and frayed into fine filaments, they replaced them proudly and with loving care.
Years passed and they began reluctantly to accept that their son might never return. The fabric of the building was deteriorating and it appeared that it waited, heartsore like them, for the young man’s return. To refurbish it would feel like a betrayal and somehow it seemed fitting that the house should shrink into itself, just as they were doing.
Quietly, uncomplainingly, they advanced into old age and as the paintwork peeled so did their eyes grow dim until one day, peacefully, they closed for the final time and saw no more. The house crumbled into disrepair but the trees remained, remnants of yellow satin grown into their bark, a permanent memorial to a young life lost and to undiminished love and hope.