Skip to main content

Looking Back


In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Christina G. Rossetti

The words of Christina G. Rossetti's Christmas carol perfectly describe the bitter cold of the January day in England on which Dad was buried, less than eight months before, Mum had arrived to spend a month with us in Canada in the fall of that year. Thursday, January 30, 2003 was sunny, but gnawing cold, foreshadowing the snow that came with evening. 

Rob wore a  rented gray suit, shirt and tie, and looked dignified in the overcoat I had helped him choose. 

We had been dreading the day, and prepared in our own ways, to endure it.

Mum, who never in her life had an extensive wardrobe, wore a simple black suit and ivory blouse that we had bought together at British Home Stores a few days earlier. 

Both Rob and I inherited our height from Dad who was still a fine figure of a man, when he died at 81; 6 feet tall. Mum, on the other hand, always joked that when she had applied for her first passport and had to enter a height, she had written down the height she wanted to be--5 foot 6 inches. She was several inches shorter than that but no one ever challenged her on it! And as she aged she diminished in height. She seemed so small and vulnerable.

Mum did so well and seemed so strong as we all rode in the limousine together for the short drive up to St. Laurence Church. In front, with great pomp and respect, a man in top hat and tails, led the way on foot with slow, solemn steps. 

Inside the ancient church, a small crowd had gathered. You realize when you go through the loss of someone, how much each person's physical presence means and how each card feels like a hug.

The strains of the organ quietly filled the sanctuary, as Dad's coffin was wheeled forward, covered in the Union Jack and with two standard bearers from the Royal British Legion

Mum stood beside me in a pew very near to the front of the church. As we began to sing, "The Lord is My Shepherd" she suddenly recoiled as though from a punch to the stomach. Her dear face was red, eyes tightly closed, and I realized that she was crying.

Rob and I gently lowered her to the pew and I held her close to me, so very glad to be there to support her.

We listened as the Reverend David Martin delivered the eulogy, based on a conversation he had with us a few days before; we were so grateful for his calm and kind support.

But that all seemed so long ago now. Mum and I were together, on Canadian soil, where she loved to be, with four deliciously long weeks stretching ahead of us before she had to leave. We both prepared to cherish every minute.

Comments

Tracy Campbell said…
A touching story you wrote so very well.
Belinda said…
Thanks for reading along Tracy. That's such an encouragement to keep writing.
Susan said…
Even though I already know some of what came next, I still can't wait to hear you tell it again.
Belinda said…
:) Thank you Susan!
Tracy Campbell said…
Yes, do keep writing!

Popular posts from this blog

Just Joy!

Our family has a standing date for Sunday dinner on the first Sunday of every month. Not that we don't see each other at any other time, but we all know that particular Sunday is pretty much for sure--and I look forward to it so much--the front door bursting open and our house being filled once more with the voices and vibrancy of six grandchildren and their parents. 

This week Spero, Brenda's new Australian Shepherd puppy came too, and met his extended family, leaving Molson at home to have a rest! He was duly adored by all of us.


He came with a dazzling array of toys and is proving a fast learner, already sitting on command and responding to Tori's training. I was so impressed at her technique of quickly rewarding a turnaround from any slight naughtiness with praise for "good sitting," or "good" any other desirable behaviour! 

Tippy had her hair cut stunningly and bravely short the day before; making a statement about who she is as a unique individual, o…

The Secret Adventures of Susan's Scottish Scarf

By Belinda (with a lot of help from Susan :))
I was saying goodnight to her at the front door this week when she told me. There was apparently more to the scarf around her neck than I knew. 
The scarf had been a gift from me for Susan's birthday on Tuesday December 18th. It had been her 60th; and that day I had treated her to lunch to celebrate. 
We met at a tiny restaurant, Port Soiree, in Schomberg,near her office. It was a restaurant neither of us had been to before and it turned out to be a gem, with artsy ambiance, amazing food, wonderful service and modest pricing. In other words, it was perfect!