Sitting on the bench

I can’t remember if I’ve told you this, but I’ve recently moved into my Dad’s old bedroom.

This is a big thing for me. That room has almost always belonged to my parents. Not long after he died, in a fit of grief, I emptied drawers, washed bedding.. And then left everything in bags in the room. A few weeks later the bed was taken out, and at my daughter’s insistence, became the holding bay for most of my belongings when we decided she would move into my room and I would move into hers (with its single bed) whilst I decorated Dad’s old room for my use.

It has remained a disorganised storage room for four months with the door firmly closed so I didn’t have to deal with it.

As fate would have it, a friend in need is staying with me for a little while, so two weeks ago I got stuck in and I am now in my new room. It’s not decorated and there is still a large box of Dad’s clothes that I can’t part with yet but I moved furnature and cleared out the clothes that Dad hardly wore.

Perhaps it was the right time, maybe it was because I wanted to help a friend, but after the initial struggle to get started on the room as tears steamed down my face, I feel comfortable in the space now.

What I find most striking about the change (I was in my old room for thirteen years) is actually the view from the window. As a child, long before the extension was built when I bought the house off my parents, I slept in the two back bedrooms at various times. Both looked out at the back yard and the outbuildings of the farm.

As an adult, my new bedroom was in the extension and looked out at the fields at the front of the house: the same fields that helped me process my depression each morning as I sat drinking coffee with my cat on my knee.

In my new room, the window looks out over the front garden as it is the old side of the house.

The garden has so many memories for me. Playing in it as a child. Dad showing us the tadpoles and fish in the pond. Helping Dad garden. Dad pointing out the many birds that would visit his hand built bird table. Building snowmen. Dad ill but sitting in the garden in his pyjamas, his daughters fussing around him like a flock of sparrows.

Last spring we worked hard on the garden to make it a nice space for Dad to look at. It had been a long time since he was fit enough to garden and it had become overgrown.

As I look at it now, it looks a little overgrown again but Dad would have loved it. The periwinkle has reestablished itself in the borders. The snowdrops and daffodils have come and gone but tulips and other flowers are dotted around.

Each morning, I wake up and look out of the window. My eyes are always drawn to the bench in the corner of the garden, looking out at the pond, and I wonder every day whether I should replace it for a new one or continue to enjoy the faded paint but prominent memories of Dad.

Today, when I finished work, my sister visited. She told me that she had been to see a Medium who had told her that Dad was always with her. She mentioned many things she could not have known: gestures Dad always made, things he would say and understanding of personalities she didn’t know. As I have written before, there have been many incidents in the past year where I have felt like Dad has been communicating with me, somehow.

So when my sister said that Dad often sits on the bench, I gave a sigh. The bench is staying.

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