You know how it is. Suddenly you smell something that brings back memories of a past event – the smell of candy floss at a fair ground – the smell of frying onions by the sausage sizzle stand.
Well, this particular day I couldn't believe the scent that arose from the flower beds at the cemetery. I had gone to place some flowers of my parents' grave and all of a sudden there came this very strong aroma of violets. The flowers in the beds were roses and there was no accounting for the aroma that was surrounding me.
The last words my mother spoke to me were that heaven was just like a garden of flowers and the song 'Tip Toe Through the Tulips' always brings moisture to my eyes.
Lately I have been having vivid dreams of my mother and this was definitely some message coming through.
At home I felt quite strange but after a strong cup of coffee settled slightly. Still the thought persisted that I should go to the garden shed and look in the old tool box that had stood there for as long as I can remember. I had never looked in it before but the feeling was so intense that I just had to go. Lifting the lid was a hard task as years of debris had filled the hinges with grime. Imagine my surprise when under the rusty tools I saw a canvas bag lying right across the bottom of the chest. I carefully lifted it out and the contents were in surprisingly good repair. Firstly, a beautiful dress embroidered with violets round the sleeves and hem and then a pair of velvet shoes to match. Tiny pale purple gloves and stocking of sheer silk. What did this mean?
I had seen my mother's wedding photos and this wasn't her wedding dress and I had no idea to whom it my have belonged. On looking further I found an envelope full of newspaper clippings all about a young girl who had died in suspicious circumstances over 70 years ago. My parents never really discussed the past very much and hedged over some things that I asked and now I understood. The dress must have belonged to my aunt who they told my had immigrated to New Zealand as a girl.
How I wished my mother could have confided in me as to the real story of Violet – for that was her name – and I felt that yesterday at the cemetery she was trying to tell me about it.
Scents are so personal and have such intimate and personal meanings for all of us. I can't explain this story – it just happened and I thought I would share it with you.
The village was small, with only the mining population living there plus one shop, a school and petrol station. The stark hills looked forlorn after the scouring that had gone on over the years. A few trees tried bravely to stand against the winds that whipped through.
The family I am writing about consisted of mum, dad, grandpa, and three children, Mary, Alfred and George. The men of the family worked down the mine and the mother had her work cut out looking after the filthy washing that accumulated each night when the men came home. Plus, she had to mend the ragged clothes and make meagre meals as things were very harsh on Castlehurst Mountain. Mum did try to have a small garden growing a few vegetables but the local birds soon ate any greens that pushed their way up through the stoney soil. The only things that survived were her potato crop and these were very valued to help feed the family.
Mary, Alfred and George went to the local school and were good students - all in the one room with the teacher doing his best to tend to all the different stages of learning they were at. The school was heated by a coal fire that burned each day in the grate. The children would rush in from playing and stand close to it to try and warm their hands so that they could hold their pencils. One of the best chores given to the boys was to go out to fill the coal bucket each day. George was nearly 12 and was strong enough to lift the hinged door and climb down the steps into the black hole. It was so dark inside and the only light filtered through a very dirty old window just below ground level.
It was a while before the teacher realised that George wasn't in the class room. The last he had seen of him was heading towards the black hole with a bucket in his hand. The search was on and the whole district was looking for George but to no avail. The family were distraught and their calling could be heard echoing across the valley.
The next day at dawn the search started again and then someone thought of going back down the black hole to try and move some of the coal that was nearly up to the ceiling. It was hard work and the coal kept on shifting and falling in piles all around the men. After several hours one of the men cried “I have found him.” George was buried right near the back of the pile and must have climbed up to fill the bucket when it all started moving around him and he was buried so quickly that he couldn't even scream out for help.
The funeral was attended by all the villagers and to this day they still talk about the terrible accident that happened to George in the black hole at Castlehurst Mountain.