July / August 2019
I’ve just come back from Howarth in Yorkshire; a walking holiday with friends. It is a favourite place of ours, because one of our group, who we lost a couple of years ago, loved the Brontes’ work. We go regularly to remember our dear friend – and this year we went to see the Bronte Stones – a series of four stones in the area put up to commemorate the Bronte family and their wild contribution to English Literature.
June is of course also the month of Fathers’ Day – when Dads and Grandads are celebrated. My Dad passed away at the end of March, so this was the first Fathers’ Day without him.
It is a strange sensation to grieve the loss of special people whilst on holiday having a good time. However, the bitter/ sweet combination of sadness and joyful remembrance is one reason we have a ‘wake’ after a funeral. And celebratory days - Fathers’ Day, Mothers’ Day - alongside our festivals of faith – allow us to return to our memories of loved ones however long ago we lost them.
My Dad’s death is recent and as such things are a bit raw. My thoughts include a myriad of regrets – that we didn’t do a gardening project like we planned; that we didn’t make pickles like we planned; that we didn’t use his woodworking equipment together like we planned – that time just slipped away and I was often too busy to do a million things with him big and small. That I was sometimes tired and grumpy instead of cheerful and mellow. That I sometimes lacked patience. That we disagreed about so many things – politics, religion – and that I should have listened to him more – given I already knew what I thought!
Also of course there are the happy thoughts - things we did do – things that I now miss – our chats; our jokes (dark Scouse sense of humour); our political debates (when we did listen to each other); driving him about; setting off in the car and having to turn back to pick up his teeth; asking his advice (he has done almost everything in his time); searching the stuffed to the brim garage with him for one bit of equipment; watching TV; trying to work out meals that both he and Mum would eat; pints down the pub watching the football; desperately trying to convince him to stop over feeding our fat little dog.
Whilst we were on holiday to commemorate both my late friend and the famous Bronte sisters – life, death and loss were in the forefront of our minds. As was the need to make the most of what we have.
So I tootled around on my holiday - enjoying the countryside, the good food, the good company, the rain, the insect bites (they always love me), the cockerel that loitered outside the front door waiting to peck us, the ducks that waddled over each morning hoping for a treat, the little smackerel of something we indulged in mid-morning, the beautiful scenery – and it properly hit me that we shouldn’t wait until someone has gone to notice the zest that they provide, in all its forms.
So that is the point of my little epistle – let us enjoy ourselves, enjoy each other, enjoy all those we have in our lives – not just ‘the laughter and tears, joys and fears’ - as the clichéd songs tell us – but also the bickering, the grumpiness, the times we mishear or misunderstand and lose our patience, the times we properly disagree. Enjoy and love regardless. Because once a person is gone what we realise is that life with them included the whole caboodle, and was good.
“So now faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13.