the sense of those we love

yesterday we went to visit relatives, a bit of New Year cheer and as always when we see those we don’t see often, memories were resurrected and remembered, people now gone were spoken about and those we love felt a little closer to us.

On the way home we are chatting about our day and hubby asked if one of the people we visited had changed her appearance, she was not as he remembered her being. Despite having been with her not an hour or so earlier I had no clue what he meant.  To me she has never changed.  Not since I was a child and she a pal of my Mum and Dad, she has always looked the same.

It dawned on me that those we love and have loved all our lives we seldom see.  What I mean is that the image of them is so imprinted in our brains that we no longer need to see their physical presence today. So, when I sit with my family I am content with my sense of them, I tune into the person I know to be them and take little notice of how they actually look.

Holding my Aunties hand we chat of the past, she has had great sadness recently and I wanted to be a comfort to her, wanted her to know I cared.  I have realised that she knew this, because she was also seeing her sense of me.  I am sure there were times when she looks at me and sees the child I once was, then the young Mum who looked to her and her husband to help, having lost my own Mum and Dad.  Maybe we all do this, the sense of someone, this knowing who people are from the inside as well as the outside.

As we talked on the way home it became clear to me that this is the essence of love, the understanding and acceptance of someone exactly as they are to you, with no other thoughts necessary.

Memory is a super power, for within our minds we can conjure up the best of times, a sense of continuity, a sense of self, and within that the sense of those we love, never changing, always there.

on talking to Dad in the kitchen

This morning I was pottering around the house, cleaning this, tidying that and all the while the radio was playing in the background.  Mostly I was tuned out to the songs but suddenly one came through clearly. This song is about the Living Years and the lyrics are all about the regret you feel when the people you love are not there any more for you to talk to.  ‘I just wish I could have told them, in the living years’ a line that will resonate with me forever.

Suddenly, hands in the sink, the sun glinting across the kitchen window and the washing blowing in the breeze, I could hear myself chatting to my Dad.  What a conversation we had.  I told him all about the ups and downs of the politics of this country, we talked of fairness and of hope for the future.  I told him all about his great Granddaughter, and how she is the light of our lives, I talked about my sons, how much I had missed his wisdom while they were growing.  I explained about my daughter, soon off again on her travels and about how much the world had changed since he was last in it. I told him about my husband, and how he has the same calm and gentle manner that I loved in Dad. I told him about making my home in a town he had never visited and how I had found good and loving friends here.  I made him smile with tales of family gatherings and made myself sad that we have missed so much fun together.

We remembered the tough times of my growing years, when I would rebel and fight for freedom, and I thanked him for being constant, for the lessons he taught me, they have informed my life. Dad didn’t say much but I knew he was smiling and nodding, except for the bits about the politics, I think he frowned a lot then.  It was a two way chat, the like of which I don’t ever remember having before.  Eventually I stopped talking, the sink was still full of pots and the washing was still blowing in the wind.  Yet something had changed.  I felt a peaceful connection to the past and a real hope for the future.

So if you do actually have someone to talk to in these living years of ours please do so. You see my Dad and I did chat a lot, but so much has happened since last we sat side by side putting the world to rights there is so much more to talk about.  It was great this morning chatting in the kitchen to my funny, clever and wise Dad, who would do anything for his family, who shared his politics and talked more sense than anyone else I have ever met.

Use these living years wisely folks, grab life, love life and talk to all the important people as much as you can when and wherever you can.  There is nothing more precious than that.

on closing doors

The optimist in me says that when one door closes another opens, which is true,however there are some doors that once shut will remain so forever.

I have been thinking a lot this week about someone close who has more than her fair share of sadness in recent times.  In the midst of illness and death she has also had to see to all the practical issues that remain once someone we love is no more. Empting cupboards, sorting furniture and selling up a home.

This has made me think about a time when, as a young Mum, I was also closing up a home forever, to hand it to another family to live, love, argue and laugh in.  Houses are just bricks and mortar, a big kitchen or a tiny bathroom, a small garden, or a back yard, it doesn’t matter.  It is the people who live their lives within the walls that make a house a home.

Closing the door for the last time on the house you have grown up in is a tricky thing to do. The symbol of the keys, they are no longer yours, and the thought that very soon a whole load of strangers will be opening the door for their brand new start.

As you walk away for that final time you are followed by a thousand memories. Remembering walking the path coming home from school, of carrying shopping bags, of opening the door to see friends and family, and most of all the memory of the people who once carried you towards your home and who now are no longer here.  These are all seen in clear and present memory.

From the outside a front door is no more than an entrance to those who don’t know what went on beyond.  In my childhood home the front door step was a place as children we loved to sit, to chat and to simply be.  Once opened the wide hallway offered a glimpse of the rooms beyond, and within those rooms were the people we loved.

It seems to me that closing a door forever means that there are no more memories to be made here.  That all that was to be has been. As we walk away we take our memories with us for they are the essence of a family that made us the adults we are today and will be carried in our hearts forever.

on magic and memory

Yesterday I went to a park where as a child I had played for hundreds of hours.  Set near to the shore the trees and paths are just as I remembered, the white bandstand gleaming through the leaf laden branches and the sun casting shadows across the grass.  A place so familiar it is part of me, and where if I closed my eyes I could see myself, together with my friends, rushing down the steep paths towards the sea on our roller skates, hotly followed by the parkie, wheels were not welcome!!

Yesterday was another sunny day and I had come to the park to find the pirates!  Well at least one of them who lives in a gate house at one of the many entrances to this beautiful place. These artists turned pirates are the people who created a pirate ship from driftwood that has become a tourist attraction and a community project, their skills and imagination I have written about before on this blog it is a wonderful thing.

In the park I was introduced to the latest piece of magic, the fairy dwellings, which have sprung up in the trees and grass across the park.  Tiny doors and windows giving small faces a glimpse into the fairy world.  Above a wooden eagle is hanging in the branches keeping a careful eye on the tiny world below  As I watched families were arriving the children keen to explore and find the fairies.

In the middle of the fairy houses there is a new project, this will have fairy doors and a circular space in the centre it which will be placed some very special treasure.  This will be the memory tree, and the first memories will be for a little girl who is not here any more to play with the fairies.  Instead her classmates and family will have their very own tree in which to put items to remember her by.  In time other people will also use the space to remember those who are lost to them.

Alongside the memory tree there is a large flat stone, bearing the inscription ‘Wishing Stone’. I saw people touching it, and silently giving their wishes to the stone.  Decorated with dozens of smaller hand painted stones this is indeed a lovely spot to leave your hopes and dreams.

So, in an ordinary park, on an ordinary afternoon in June, magic is indeed happening.  The sort of magic that surrounds us all when we dare to believe in fantasy, fun and fairies.  The magic of hope, of love and of memory.  The magic of imagination and play.

So many parks have signs saying do not touch, keep off the grass and no playing here, this spot is the exact opposite  Here they are saying touch, feel, dance in bare feet on the grass and live in your imagination.  Blessed are the children that use this park today.  From a couple of artists playing with driftwood to an enchanted wonderland of hopes and dreams, who knew what would grow, and who knows what is coming next?