His distinctive chuckle filled the air; the room once clinical and white was immediately transported. He was back on Woodbury Hill and I was carried there too. I could almost smell the coconut sweetness of the gorse and hear the song of the skylark hanging in the air as he spoke. He wasn’t talking to me, he was reminiscing about Joan and their wartime adventures in the little farm house in the valley below .
“She was blown clean out of the bed.” The chuckle began again in earnest. “The blast was so strong, the front door came off its hinges!”
I ventured a question, not wanting to lose the moment. “Itt must have been close to you then?”
“No, no, it was down at Wareham crossroads. It was strong though.”
He stared distantly out of the window, coal tits fighting were fighting over an almost empty bird feeder. He wasn’t, he was up on the hill again looking at his mother waving from the farm at Lower Woodbury, buzzards circling above, their distinctive cry breaking the silence, his sister Joan standing by his side once again.
“They left me outside the shop for three hours today you know.” His frightened words suddenly broke the silence.
“Who did Ken?”
He stared straight ahead anxiously wringing his hands. “The carers, then they locked me in a cage when I got back.”
I knew once again we had lost those happy childhood memories and he had returned to his terrifying living nightmares. I consoled him. “The staff here are wonderful. They wouldn’t have treated you like that.”
His face softened. Joan was with him again, holding his hand, guiding her beloved brother across the hill out of harm’s way. The fear subsided once more. “I went for a walk with Joan up on Woodbury Hill this morning.” He beamed.
“Did you Ken?” His excited Dorset drawl sounded almost childlike “John came too; we talked about the football and caught up with all of the news.”
“Just like the old days eh Ken?” I ventured.
He smiled at the memory and nodded.
I knew I didn’t have long to share these conversations with my old friend. Dead loved ones and friends were gathering to share their stores once again. Up on Woodbury Hill they were waiting.