It was a lovely, sunny Sunday afternoon and my dad and I were taking an elderly neighbour’s dog for a walk. We were wandering along one of our favourite haunts – Pickerings Pasture – a long path, bordered on one side by the Mersey river, when we decided to walk down to the edge of the water.
My dad was ahead of me and suddenly shouted out…he’d found some treasure and wanted me to see it. As I wandered over, I could see why it had grabbed his attention, he’d found a piece of driftwood, dirty, water logged and rugged but (most bizarrely) nailed together in the shape of a cross.
Had someone nailed it together like that deliberately? Was there a story as to how it had washed up on a beach somewhere? Whatever the reason, my dad was absolutely sure that he wanted to keep it.
‘Ok dad’ (said I, attempting for once in my life to be practical). ‘Let’s be sensible…how are we going to get it in the car? Where will you put it? And…uhm…don’t think mum is going to like this?’
But dad was stubbornly persistent and I begrudgingly volunteered to haul it off the beach and back down the path to the car.
Looking rather like travelling evangelist, Arthur Blessit, carting this huge cross behind me, I raised more than a few smiles from passersby. I made sure that I smiled and grimaced in a ‘he-made-me-do-it’ sort of way, so they didn’t think I was some kind of religious lunatic.
Because after all, who wants to be mistaken for a cross-carrying believer?
After some wrestling into the car, the cross did in fact make it home and after some cleaning and readjusting, now hangs on a wall in my parents’ garden.
Fast forward to today (several years later), I was visiting them and running round the garden trying to wear out their hyperactive dog.
As I threw a chewy toy round the garden, my eyes shifted to the cross hanging on the wall and I remembered the day it was hauled off the beach and with red-faced embarrassment I dragged it to the car.
So much has changed since then.
The elderly neighbour’s dog has long since been rehomed, and been replaced with Samson, the crazy puppy.
The neighbour herself has passed away and lots of other things have changed; people have moved away, got married, divorced, had children, and moved on with their lives.
Sooner or later, most things in life shift or alter in some way, yet somehow that cross still hangs there reminding us (me) that some things never change – they stay the same yesterday, today and forever.