The Words of the Powell Family
Until I was three I lived with my parents on what they referred to as the small holding. I was born in Bridgend in South Wales, UK, but we lived twenty miles from there in a small village called Miskin. Outdoors a motorway bridge ran parrallel with the side of our house and the road in front which lay under that bridge led to my grandparents' farm that was situated only a few minutes walking distance away where they raised cattle and produced milk to sell to the local villagers. I have two memories from our time at the small holding.
One of our neighbours owned an Alsatian which they let play in their front garden. I played in our front garden and the dog happily snarled and barked at me daily over the fence. I was genuinely afraid that this Alsatian might leap over the fence and eat me. It seemed big enough to do so, so I spent a long time considering what to do about it. A day arrived when I decided to confront my fear of the dog and make it my friend instead. I made a plan and believed that if I could lovingly pet it on its nose then it would respond positively and become friendly... so I approached it with this kind of attitude. As I gradually got nearer and nearer, I ignored the growing sensations of fear until I was almost close enough to touch it. All I had to do was progress just one step further and gently stroke it's damp nose. I already had my outstretched hand prepared. Just one more step and I would have touched it but my mother who was watching me from indoors ran outside sharply and shockingly yelled at me to get away from the dog. Her panic ridden, highly stressed shriek startled me to say the least and made me jump on the spot. The dog, which had settled during my approach, resumed its ferocious barking and I was forced to dive out of the way to avoid being bitten on my hand.
Unfortunately, as a result of this complicated situation, my understandable fear of one dog multiplied into an irrational fear of all dogs and I was unable to rid myself of that fear for years. I understand now that I'm older why my mother didn't want her infant son petting a gnarling dog, but nevertheless, I'm still curious to know whether or not I would have been successful. Questions such as: did I really love that dog?...did its quietness mean that it was responding to my love?...would I have been able to pet it on its nose and make it my friend? continue to raid my thoughts and circulate in my mind 'til this day. Even when I less than three in age I possessed the idea that love could make a difference and I've sought evidence to support this claim throughout my life.
Amidst my immature escapades in the front garden I wore red wellington boots, brown shorts and a green t-shirt that acted like a shield, an upside-down colander on my head for a helmet, I gripped a stick that was really a sword and my oversized lensless blue plastic spectacles filtered out all the bad stuff visually. I spent my time there fighting, defending my family from the aggressive invading forces that constantly attempted to plague our lives.
My father, on his way to work one day in his orangey-brown Ford Cortina, took my older brother to school. My mother called me in to the house mid battle and told me to wait in the kitchen doorway where we could see through the window the motorway bridge outside. My parents had planned a treat for me and I was really really excited, but as a little boy I had little patience and I soon turned around to go back outside. But my mother sternly reprimanded me, saying:
"Be patient James, your father will be along shortly!"
I remember listening to my mother and waiting some more and now I'm glad that I did because from this came one of the most enjoyable memories of my life and one which has, in it's own way, by the words my mother spoke, provided me with guidance through difficult and trying times.
My father, as he drove across the bridge on the way past our house, did so deliberately slowly so that I could see him. He leant across two seats with his arm stretched out of the window, and with a big smile on his face he waved at me with eyes and heart wide open. When that happened it was as if my parents' love, united in one and conspiring together for their son, zapped me in an almighty electrical surge through my entire body and I couldn't contain the happiness. My parents' love hit me and it hit me strong. I instantly ran outside fully energised and smiling unreservedly from cheek to cheek, having the power to defeat any foe that was waiting for me in our front garden. Of all the time I've spent with my parents, this is my happiest memory.