“Memory, my dear Cecily, is the diary that we all carry about with us.”
Says Miss Prism in The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde
My father-in-law is writing his memoirs and I can’t wait to read them!
“How do you remember all the places and names and details?” I asked him.
“You’d be surprised what comes to mind when you start digging around in the past. You open a drawer, look through a photo album, talk to an old friend, read a letter…” he replied.
Now I know what he means.
My family came together in Morgan Bay to say goodbye to my father on the 5th May. It was not easy. But it was an honour and a privilege to stand together beside my brother and sister, and to deliver our eulogy, in front of a church full of people who knew and loved our father. Two of his good friends also spoke beautifully. There were many tears, but also laughter and great stories shared.
The rest of the week was spent celebrating our Dad: taking a freezing ocean swim to scatter Dad’s ashes at his favourite fishing spot. We got oysters, cockles and mussels on the low tide and then ate them on the rocks as Dad taught us. We ate freshly caught fish for brunch and cracked open a beer in his honour – Dad never could resist a cold beer on a sunny day surrounded by friends and family and a ‘free from the sea’ feast! We walked his precious dogs and listened to Elvis. We started copious sentences with “do you remember when?” or “Dad would always…” or “Dad would have loved this.”
It was a bitter-sweet, absolutely once-in-a-lifetime special week. My Dad is in paradise now. Wherever that is, he has his mind back.
On the trip back to London we had a 7 hour wait in Johannesburg and as Hubby abhors waiting or being early for anything, we spent the time in freezing Jo’burg, getting a personal tour of a friend’s award-winning coffee roastery business. Did you know that coffee beans start out green????? Sorry. Maybe I’m a bit dense?
I miss you today Dad.
P.s. A few years ago my father-in-law gave us a dossier of letters written by his grandfather to his grandmother while he was abroad on national service – they were apart for sometimes 3 years at a time. He died in the trenches in 1914. Hubby and I transcribed some of the letters and scanned others. Cousins passed on photographs and other documents and we pooled it all for the family. Then on the 100th anniversary of his death, many of Hubby’s family came together on a group Skype call to chat through what they’d read and learnt, to celebrate his life, to cherish memories and to wonder at a time in history long past but not forgotten.
P.p.s. Memory is a funny thing… when preparing for our eulogy, my brother, sister and I discovered that in one or two instances we actually had contradictory memories of Dad. Instead of sanitising or standardising them, we kept them in our eulogies. We decided that all memories were valid and that, just possibly, we had had – all three – different Dad-relationships with the same man and that that was okay! We also discovered through our tears and loss, that suddenly all our father’s imperfections and all our little hurts and bruises were no longer important.
P.p.p.s If you’re over 60 you should really get started on your memoirs – it’s the current trend! Everybody who’s anybody is doing it. And don’t think you haven’t had an interesting life. YOU HAVE!