We all like to remember the key events in our lives and to mark the date on which they occurred. The most obvious being births marriages and deaths, or ‘hatches matches and dispatches’, as someone once put it. The anniversary of an event is a useful device for the writer, providing a cue for a flashback to some event that played an important role in creating the character of a protagonist and the motivation for his role in the unfolding plot.
“He remembered that day, exactly one year ago, when …”
“She knew that, in just two days time, it would be exactly ten years since …”
How often have we read, or written, sentences structured like that?
How far do such tropes represent real life? Wedding anniversaries are widely celebrated; there is even a long established list of materials appropriate for wedding anniversary gifts. Many people like to recognise the anniversary of the passing of a loved one with an ‘in memorium’ notice in a newspaper and/or the placing of flowers on the grave.
Nations remember key moments in their history. July 4th., American independence day; 11th. November across the Western world, marking the armistice that ended the first world war. VE day and VJ day representing the two stages in the ending of World War II. For Ireland, 2016, and especially April, represents the centenary of the Easter Rising which accelerated the process towards independence.
What about other things? The day you moved into your present home, for example? Your first day at college or work, the day you were dismissed or retired? And, for a writer, the day you were offered your first publishing contract.
For me, April represents the month in which, five years ago, we moved into our present house. We had begun looking a year before, having decided that we wanted a bungalow with a bit more garden than we had with our previous property. We looked at several possibilities. Too many in our price range required the kind of improvement work that seemed daunting as I approached my 70th birthday, in itself, another important anniversary.
We looked at a retirement village where the bungalows were well maintained but the interiors too small to accommodate the accumulated possessions of almost fifty years of marriage. Many of these possessions were reminders of other key events in our lives; silver and ruby wedding presents, souvenirs of memorable holidays; leaving gifts from work and from my days as an active member of a political organisation.
Eventually we discovered a retirement village that had been abandoned when the Irish property market collapsed. The developer was trying to revive interest, and the properties were being offered at bargain prices. The show house was tastefully furnished but it, and thirty-odd identical bungalows, still looked smaller than our requirements. In one corner of the development, at the top of a hill, was a larger bungalow, on a bigger plot, that fronted the end of a cul-de-sac. To our amazement we were told the price of this unit was the same as all the others.
We moved in on April 29th. Since then I have created an attractive and productive garden on the area of land surrounding it. This year will also see, in October, the tenth anniversary of my retirement and move to Ireland. But that’s another story! What important anniversary will you be celebrating in April or in any other month of 2016?