Tuesday, 19 May 2015


I don't know what brought Jessie to mind this morning.

Something prompted memories of my childhood, of days long ago walking the long smugglers path to Arymer Cove.

Of Robert, the son of my mothers friend, just a few years older than me who was tragically killed on his motorbike when he was only 19 years old.

I wondered who (other than his family) still thought about Robert more than 30 years after his life ended and it led me on to thinking of Jessie.

Is there anybody left to think of her?

Jessie lived opposite us with her elderly mother.  I don't recall their surname, I don't know why that bothers me.

I think that little was known about Jessie.  I don't know her age.  She may have been anything between 30 and 50 but at the age I was (about 9 or 10) all I knew was that she was a grown up.

I don't know if she worked or if she had any hobbies, if she'd ever been married or even had a boyfriend.  I know so little about her other than the fact that she lived with her mother in the row of  6 or 7 Council owned houses across the road.

Jessie had a dog called Mutley.  A small black and white rough haired terrier who occasionally used to escape and come chasing across the road to our house to be made a fuss of.  Once he had had his fill of petting he would race back across the road to home.

Jessie walked Mutley for miles.

I often used to see her as she passed by.

She was tall and slim with short cropped dark hair.  Always in dark clothing.  Often wearing a long dark overcoat that may well have been a man's.

She only ever spoke to say hello.  She had a deep voice for a woman, but it was soft and melodic with no discernable accent.  She would nod politely in my direction, voice her greeting and pass by.

The day before she died I saw her.  I was sitting on the bank by our garden gate.  I saw her leave her house with Mutley pulling on his lead.  She turned and checked the door was securely fastened before walking down the path towards me to the road.

There was nothing special or significant about my last sighting of Jessie.  She gave me her usual greeting and carried on down the road towards the village as I watched until she rounded the bend in the road and disappeared from my sight.

Had I know it was the last time I would see her I doubt anything would have been different.

Jessie died the following day walking Mutley late at night.  She was struck by a motorbike.

Perhaps it was remembering Roberts untimely death that reminded me of Jessie although Robert died several years after she did.

The boy who's bike hit her was the brother of a boy I went to school with.  He rounded a bend on the way into the village and just didn't see her next to the hedge in her dark clothing.

He didn't even know he'd hit her ...

He came off his bike and possible was even knocked unconscious - I don't remember the details.  He picked up his bike and pushed it home where he told his parents about the accident still not knowing what had caused it.

The alarm was raised when Mutley returned home without Jessie.

Again, I don't know (or remember the details) but at some point the connection was made between the boy's accident and Jessies death.

I don't remember what happened to the boy.  I don't know if any blame was attached to him.  I remember that it was talked of as a tragic accident and I remember that at some point Mutley just wasn't around any more.  I don't know if Jessies mother couldn't cope with the reminder of her or if she felt that somehow the dog was to blame for the accident.

It was the first time this kind of death had touched my life and I wish I knew more about Jessie.

I wish I remembered more - I wish  I could tell her story properly.

Perhaps it's enough that someone just remembers her from time to time.


Holly Hollyson said...

Well I can't think of a better person to remember Jessie's tale from a story telling point of view - your tales always leave me gripped from start to finish. Poor Jesse and Mutley. Life can be so mysterious sometimes.

Sarah said...

Thank you Holly - I wish I had more to tell, there must have been so much more ...

Polly said...

oh what a heartfelt story Sarah, but you remember her and now we know a bit about her life, so she hasn't been forgotten. I think this is a lovely epitaph to her.

Sarah said...

Thank you Polly - it seems so sad that someone could be forgotten, I so wish I knew more.

Sandra said...

Last year my youngest daughter's boyfriend drowned while fishing at a local lake...it made the Sydney news and major papers...a couple of nights after his tragic death a bunch of people gathered at the lake at the very spot where he was fishing and later his body found...a year later we met there again, but there were less people this time. My daughter said it was better this year because it was the people who hadn't stopped thinking about him during the previous 12 months...I wonder whether the numbers will be lower again next year...I know I'll be there because I don't want him forgotten. I wonder if a young child will remember that incident like you remember Jessie...xx

Sarah said...

I'm so sorry Sandra - it's terrible when somebody dies before their time. I think that the fact that there weren't so many people this year doesn't necessarily mean that people don't remember. They may not remember every day and they may not remember on that particular day, perhaps he just pops into their minds at random times as Jessie does into mine? It's hard sometimes to see life going on when we have lost someone we love so much but I'll bet that someone somewhere is thinking of him every day xx