Time to say goodbye

Beautiful, isn’t it?

Any florists or gardeners out there will not be as impressed of course. This little posy is made from the very few flowers currently growing in my garden.

It’s a symbolic little posy: I like symbolism.

The three red-pink roses are from a rambler that my Dad loved, growing on a fence that he and my uncle build 15 years ago. We placed some of these roses in my Dad’s coffin when he died 4 years and 2 days ago. The purple aquilegia – bright, cheerful and independent – sprout everywhere in my garden, self-seeded by the wind. I hated them at one point for their pesky weed-like determination to flower wherever they wanted. Dad loved them for the same reason. I do now, too.

The yellow iris is actually a water iris that has taken over 3/4 of my pond. My sister threatened to dig them out 5 years ago to my Dad’s protest. She never did and they’ve continued to take over ever since.

The little pink candy-puff flowers, as I call them, were planted by my dad. I think the plant originally came from my uncle, but I’m not sure. Either way, its fluffy cuteness made a welcome addition. Plus, there wasn’t much else I could put in.

The posy was wrapped in a wet piece of kitchen paper, then in foil and then a piece of chiffon ribbon. It went in my handbag.

Throughout the service, I kept checking it was ok..not too squashed as I delved in and out for my tissues. At one point, my son alerted to me to a small aphid crawling on my black cardigan, no doubt from this little bouquet.

At the end, as “Time to say Goodbye” by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli played, tears ran down my face and sobs threatened to erupt into hyperventilation. It was one of my Dad’s favourite songs too and the words were scarily poignant for more than the obvious. I watched the sheer curtains close and the lights dim. As the people in front of me – family – moved out of the crematorium, I pulled out my little posy and stared at it as I blindly walked towards the coffin. Looking up, I asked the funeral director to place it on my uncle’s coffin and I left the building.

He was the last one, the last of my father’s generation.

He was probably my Dad’s best friend and definitely his closest sibling. My Dad respected and trusted him and looked up to him. My uncle visited my Dad on his dying bed, a fact I had forgotten until sat in that crematorium.

My uncle was the hardest working man I knew. He was generous, intelligent and strong. For reasons unexplainable here, I barely saw him in the last few years and I regret that. I have many, many memories of him from my childhood. Memories I will always treasure, like the rose bush he apparently treasured, which I had bought him 10 years ago for his 80th birthday.

Today, I felt like I said goodbye to him and my Dad. I don’t really remember much of my Dad’s funeral and I am the one who organised it. More than that, I feel like I have said goodbye to a whole swathe of life – of my life. There are no holds now, no anchors, nothing left.

I’m too sad today to even know how I feel about that.

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Castle

Bees dance around steadfast violet blooms,

which flutter in the summer breeze and

adorn your ancient stones like amethyst.The river trickles;

The birds chirp and chirrup

a fanfare whilst the occasional caw

of the midnight crow echoes in the falling towers.

Two trees stand sentry.

You are stark yet beautiful in your cloak of purple blooms:

A golden carpet lying at your feet.Are you lonely there on the Eden hillside –

Or are you content with your piece of English heaven?

How many footfalls have you heard, whispers of fabric brushing on the ground?

What laughter, or what cries in pain have echoed in your long forgotten hallways?

Today,

Earthly fingers trace in awe your lichen covered walls;

cameras click, voices whisper supposingly.

Sleep, gentle giant

and dream of knights

and ladies and the past.

Spri-nter

I awoke this morning to the beautiful sounds of birdsong. It was last year since I have heard such a beautiful dawn chorus and it lifted my heart as well as saddened it too – I remember very clearly the dawn chorus which accompanied me as I watched my Dad leave in the ambulance.

Even so, it was a lovely way to wake up this morning.

This afternoon was great too. For the first time in seven months my friend and I went out walking again.

We’ve not been out walking since the beginning of the summer holidays and before she weirded out on me.

We went to a National Trust property, wrapped up warm but loving the sunshine. We bought sandwiches and coffee from the restaurant and found an obliging bench to sit and eat. Then it started to hail. Yes, hail.

We sheltered under the bare branches on a huge tree which surprisingly helped. Ten minutes later the sun was shining again and we set off through the parkland. It felt amazing to breathe in the crisp air, feel the faint heat of winter sunshine on my face and feel my body respond to the exercise. We then wandered through the gardens and saw a fantastic display of early spring flowers.

Dad loved his snowdrops and always pointed them out.

Word has it that they are the symbol of renewed life: the end of the death that winter brings.

We talked of our fathers and how, if they had met, they would have got on so well. They had so much in common and it’s sad that they didn’t get a chance to meet. We laughed at things they would have said to each other and then the strangest thing happened.

In the shrubbery, not a metre from us, was a Robin. As we got closer it didn’t move – just looked around and sang.

My photos do not do justice to how close this bird was to us. Just as I was saying to my friend that there must be something wrong with it, another one appeared on the same shrub!

To both of us it was a sign – it was too unusual for it not to be. We carried on, hearts swelling and renewed. We felt that our Dads had heard us and were telling us they were here.

And so, tired from my walk, I too felt on the cusp of change. From the cold and icy hail to the warm sunshine… the bare limbs of trees to the early flowers…. the sight and song of birds…

A hint of spring yet still winter too… Spri-nter. ☺

And although I’m still in the darkness of my grief, there are signs of positivity too.