Skip to main content

Memories and Mortality

By Belinda

 We spent a quiet afternoon with Stephen, Paul's cousin. Their fathers were brothers: Ronald and John. Uncle John passed away in the spring of last year and Stephen and his brother Sam have boxes of diaries and photos that they are slowly going through; piecing together the chronology of a family's life.

 We looked through many envelopes with photos and negatives, all in a brown paper bag with the word "Photographs" written on the front.

 As Paul and I drove home at the end of the evening, both of us had the same response to going back through generations of his family in photographs: his grandparents with their grandchildren; those babies now grandparents themselves.

 We were struck by the brevity of life, seeing them all there in a paper bag, spanning 80 years and  realized that we won't go on forever any more than they did, although we don't face or think about that fact usually.
It wasn't a maudlin thought, but a prompt to slow down more; to enjoy the moments we have--and not to be so obsessed by the busyness that possesses our normal lives. Life goes by much faster than we think. It does go by.

Stephen told Paul that he and Sam have yet to scatter their dad's ashes over the Malvern Hills,) which is also where Paul was born.)

Then he said to Paul that Uncle John's ashes were in the cupboard beside him and asked if he'd like to feel  how heavy they were. He brought out a red bag containing an oblong box and we both felt the weight--much heavier than we thought!

If they can organize it on Sunday afternoon, Paul will go with them to the Malvern Hills and do this one last thing for Uncle John.

Uncle John lived his last few years in a newer home he bought in Worcester, but Stephen stayed on in the old home they had shared for decades.

More than Uncle John's ashes linger there--part of him is in that home.


Susan said…
This is holy ground - on so many levels...
Marilyn said…
I love the thoughts you shared and the photos, Belinda. Both were rich and deep. May your time there continue to be both.
Belinda said…
Dear Friends,
It adds to the pleasure of being here, to share it with you!

Popular posts from this blog

The Most I've Ever Paid for Something I Didn't Want

We were young, that’s my excuse. I was 23 and Paul 26, but already we had done a lot of living in our time together--more than most youngsters of today would have done by then.
We had been married for almost four years, had immigrated to a new country, over 6,000 km away from home and were parents to a 3 and 1-year-old. We owned our own house--or at least two mortgages on the house and had settled down, or so I thought. Paul and I were barely scraping by, but we were making it on one salary, while I stayed home to care for our children.
It is at such times; I have come to understand, now that I am much older, that we should prepare for an adventure, for one is surely coming. 
Paul had a long drive to work, down a highway known for danger in the winter. He felt that we should explore moving closer to his place of work. I was happy in our home--had overcome two years of homesickness and loved our little village in the country. I was not in favour of the proposed move, but I did believe th…

Head Walker to Heart Warrior Part 2

One recent Saturday, I drove to St. Mary's to celebrate the Heritage Day festivities with my daughter. By then I was well into another journey, the search for a peaceful heart.

I had started the two and a half hour drive, early, choosing a route that avoided highways and had just driven through Beeton when the crossing lights up ahead signalled that a train was coming. I slowed to a stop and watched the hypnotic stream of boxcars, a seemingly endless graffiti gallery, gently swaying by on their way. A random surprise art exhibit.
As I drove through the village of Hockley, listening to CBC Radio, the bluesy voice of Canadian jazz artist, Laila Biali kept me company and set me bopping in my seat with her song, Queen of Hearts.  
Along one of the back roads after leaving the town of Orangeville, a big white tent stood in a field with a sign at the gate saying, "Gospel Meeting. All Welcome." The word "gospel," comes from an old English word with two parts: God (go…

Boundaries and Bonds

Almost three years ago, on the first Sunday of my "retired life," I left the church after morning service giddy with newfound freedom. Instead of turning left, from the church driveway, to go straight home, as usual, I decided to turn right, drive to the nearby village and visit my mother-in-law, whom I love.

I found her in her backyard, sitting on a garden swing, beneath a canopy that shaded her from the August sun. She loves to be out in the fresh air and loves to garden. Undeterred by the fact that her knees hurt and her leg may "give way" at any moment, she will strategize as though planning a complex military operation, and somehow accomplish the goal she has in mind. In between these manoeuvres, she will stop until she regains energy for the next onslaught.

That afternoon, we sat for a couple of pleasant hours in the sun. Around us, insects buzzed, birds sang, the breeze played with our hair as the canvas canopy over our heads flapped--and we talked--and talked…