Saturday morning, my mother insisted I finally dismantle my trampoline, pack it onto our trailer, and take it to the local rubbish tip. It was a task I had avoided successfully for months.
That morning, I had made it out the backdoor and was on the bottom step when she intercepted me. It was the first sunny day we had so far that Spring, and I had other plans.Mum is half my height. What she lacks in size, she makes up for in personality. She stood on the porch, her hands and arms akimbo, eyeballing me. We live in a three-bedroom house, a 1950s fibro construction common in the southwestern suburbs of Sydney.
“Jack, I’ve had it! You’re not going anywhere today until that trampoline is taken away, and that’s a fact!”
If you knew my mum, you would know you do not argue with her when she takes that stand.
Reluctantly, I re-entered the house, changed into work gear, and then proceeded to the chore. It was something I definitely did not want to do.
With slow footsteps and a heavy heart, I crossed to the trampoline. I saw it not as my mum did: rusted, the mat faded and torn, but as it had been when I was a kid: the steel frame shiny and new, the taut mat an intense blue and a portal to flight of the imaginative kind.
As a child, I had played many games on that trampoline, but my favourite game had been that of Champion Wrestler of the World. My main opponent and rival for that title had been an oversized teddy bear, that towered above me in those days and who, in appearance, outweighed me. In reality, I don’t think that the bear’s stuffing actually leant it the weight that a real bear of the same size would have had.
Ted was a fierce and determined opponent in wrestling bouts. He had size on his side and the benefit of an unpredictable trampoline bounce that usually landed him sprawling over me. He seemed to me a monster in those days.
Over the years, as I grew in coordination, skill, and size, I literally wrestled the stuffing out of Ted. Like the trampoline, he became tired and worn. Mum saw him age whereas I did not. Age did not lessen their value to me. Yes, I include my mum in that reference.
Ted and the trampoline represented so much more to me than toys. They had been things of solace when I had been lonely. The trampoline and its security netting had been a fort and Ted my protective brother when my parents raged against one another before they finally divorced. The trampoline had been my portal to adventure.
Sadness slowed me in the process.
Packing the trampoline pieces away in the trailer, I realised memories can never be dismantled. They are there for keeps.
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