Sunday, 30 September 2018

I Reflect On Loss

In the October week before my mother died, my father asked me to take him to East Ham. He'd been a curate there in the early 1950s, before he met her.

He said he wanted to remind himself that he could live without her.

This morning, I'm listening to the Brandenburg Concertos on the day before my youngest son leaves for university. These are the first LPs I owned, given to me when I was 10  or 11 by my father and mother on the occasion of my confirmation, at my request. My parents had other recordings of the music, but I wanted my own.

Year after my father died, my stepmother, with whom he enjoyed some very happy years after my mother's death, gave me a book of poetry.  It was inscribed by my father to a woman he had loved whilst living in East Ham, who had returned the book to him.

I'm not sure where I've put the little silver cross also given to me by my parents when I was confirmed, and I have not known what to do with this book of poems. It's in a box somewhere in my attic - ah, now there's a metaphor!

The hours we spent in East Ham were strange - my father had never taken me before, although he'd mentioned this part of his life because he needed to explain why he supported West Ham FC.

The feelings I felt on reading the inscription in the book of poems, Palgrave's Golden Treasury, were something about loss, and the way it's wrapped up in the way we hide ourselves from each other, and how this hiding is often necessary.

This morning, I am listening to the Brandenburg Concertos on the day before my youngest son leaves for university to read music. Over the past forty years of listening, my favourite has shifted from no.4 to 6.

Later, I'll tell my son that I love him, and that I'm glad he's got the confidence to go to university to study the subject for which he has an extraordinary passion.

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