Pockets full of falling stars

Skimming cards for my granddaughter’s ninth birthday, my attention landed on a tiny twigseeds one captioned: May your pockets be filled with falling stars, and all your wishes come true. What more could one hope for?

Among my grandchildren, Grace is alone amid a clutch of boys. She is sporty, articulate, and aspirational. I imagine her a barrister, black gown flying out behind her as the swoops down the courthouse steps. Already, the arguments she mounts can be utterly compelling – usually about why she should be allowed to do something her parents don’t want her to do.

I buy the card, and over the next few days, I think about the falling stars squished into my pockets. I always wear jeans or long pants, so l am limited to two pockets, and one is occupied by my iPhone. With each new purchase, the pockets seem to become skimpier than the last.

When the plumber arrives on time and can attend within a week or so to the roofing maintenance exposed by the torrential rains that have battered our home over recent weeks, it’s a falling star. Another is the young Dispensary Manager at the local pharmacy who is perceptive enough to see that I have a problem to be solved – at last! The first step involves retrieving a huge bundle of prescriptions belonging to Ken and I that have been squirrelled away in the pharmacy files after dispensing – contrary to returning them to me to take home. More steps follow, more tapping back and forth between her computer and the app on my phone until she can promise me that everything is fixed. Truly, a monster star!

When Ken’s cleaner arrives after eight weeks sick leave, we celebrate. Looking tanned and fit in her super-short shorts, her bed-making skills are second to none. Not one of her multiple replacements came even close.

And when my coffee date joins me at our cafe, smiling and as glad as I am to be having this time to ourselves, my thoughts turn once more to those falling stars.

What do you keep in your pockets? I think of them as very personal hiding places, a small space, secret. Being ordered to empty your pockets is the stuff of prison dramas. I came close to this once at my boarding school.

No food was allowed in the dormitories. The dining room was the place for eating. For lunch or dinner, I forget which, we were given a piece of fruit. I mustn’t have felt like eating my orange right then and slipped it in the pocket of my tunic.

As we filed out of the dining room, the head of the boarding house staff stopped me. A woman approaching her sixties, she was serene and kindly.

‘Ruth, have you got fruit in your pocket?’

‘No’, I lied, looking boldly into her grey eyes.

She repeated the question, and I repeated my denial.

She let me pass, but she knew I had the orange. I felt ashamed lying to someone I liked and respected, but it had been my first impulse.

She could have taken me aside and asked me to empty my pocket, but she chose not to humiliate me. The fact that I’m telling this story over 60 years later shows I learned my lesson then. In its own way, so long ago, that too is a falling star.

Space is at a premium in my pockets these days. But stars have magical qualities, and no matter how many I stuff in, there’s always room for more.

Image courtesy of Peter Horsfall.

Pockets full of falling stars »

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8 Responses

  1. This is lovely, Ruth. Sometimes I have to empty my pocket out to find a whole day’s stars between crumpled tissues.
    The accompanying photograph is gorgeous. Thank you for this delightful piece.
    May your nights be filled with stars both above and below.

    1. Thank you Cecile. How amazing that you find stars in your pockets too – but then, I’m not surprised!
      My stepson Peter has an inexhaustible supply of wonderful photographs.

  2. I was nearly sent to boarding school, Ruth. But at
    the last minute my parents realised they couldn’t afford it. Thank goodness! Being able to come home from school (high school) and tell my father all the things that had happened that day- all the mischief we got up to- was very fulfilling. I think I would have been lonely otherwise, and felt vulnerable among strangers.

  3. I loved your reflection Ruth. It is easy to be swept up in the day to day and not realise all those falling star moments that make life for filling (pardon the pun).

    I loved ???? especially your reflections on Grace. I can imagine her in the courtroom too but have been unable to persuade her to take up debating! I am sure she will love your card.

    1. Dear Bec, lovely to meet you here! Perhaps once Grace has tried out every sport in the universe, she might discover debating.
      One way or another, most of us find careers that use our best capabilities, don’t we.

  4. I was reminded of Perry Como singing ‘Catch A Falling Star and Put It In Your Pocket…save it for a rainy day…’ on reading your post Ruth. Do you remember his dulcet tones?
    I am always glad of a hanky in my pocket…as a child my mother never let me leave the house without one and I can’t seem to break the habit nearly 70 years on. I am going to try and find one with stars on it now!
    Perry’s song goes on to say…’then love may come and tap you on the shoulder…’…my love taps you on the shoulder as I tap the keys to write to you. xx

    1. Leonie, I was hoping someone would quote those lines – thanks for reminding me it was Perry Como, too.
      Yes, I am a hanky person also, despite it being so not cool!

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