Remembering the Dead…

I was reading a beautiful poem by John O’Donohue,

At the End of the Day,

where he asks twenty-two questions, not unlike the Ignation Examen I wrote about here.

One of the questions is,

“Did I remember the dead today?”

Tears sprang to my eyes because I always remember the dead, worried that I may, over time, forget a loved one’s Year’s Mind...

and if I forget, who will remember?

Will my forgotten dead ever be recalled to mind again or will they be gone, forever?

Yesterday in 2009, I lost my father.

Two years later in a swathe of losses Olivia, Jane, Jacob and my mother all died in the space of a few short months.

Those are my most recent dead, I added their names to my existing list of grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, one after the other, after the other.

My father would have been 93 today,

Olivia would have been 20,

Jane, 61,

Jacob, 28,

and my mother 94.

I miss my parents the most, of course.

I wish they could be with me now, though not in their nineties, but at a much more reasonable age of 50 or so,


Mum and Dad in Iran with Shah, the soft guard dog

looking forward to their retirement;

Financially secure, happy in their new home, both children living independently.

And somehow I too would be their peer, at peace with myself, contented, all my children independent.

In my mind’s eye we’d have time to spare for frivolous exchanges, or long and meaningful conversations, depending on the weather or whatever else affected our moods.

I’d take the time to get to know them better, not as mother or father to my young and floundering self, but as contemporaries…people I would choose as friends, journey through life with, pour a cup of tea for, share in an evening meal, cheers with a glass of scotch.

Perhaps my father would give me some insight about a new idea I have for a podcast,

Or my mother would help me make sense of the book I’m writing,

or they would both relate to the way I feel about what’s happening at school.

Maybe they’d marvel at the adept person I’ve become with all things digital and we’d compare notes about the latest kitchen gadgets or money transferring methods.

I’d wow my father with my knowledge of the astounding progress made with electric cars that emit less fumes and are more economic.

And of a phone he can carry in the pocket of his sports coat and answer anytime, anywhere in the world, not just the far reaches of his walled-in garden, no longer attached to the cumbersome machine on the hall table.

I’d watch his eyes widen as I told him about the capability to listen to music on demand streaming through iTunes no longer selecting records to carefully place on his Bang & Olufsen turntable, in fact no need for records at all anymore as  hundreds of hours of music and film can somehow be stored on a tiny device that fits in the palm of my hand.

I’d FaceTime my mother and neither of us would understand the technology or worry about the cost of overseas calls, we’d just enjoy a virtual hour together.  She’d love the photos sent electronically or printed at home without a dark room or chemicals.

If they were with me today we’d take a stroll along the lane where I live and reminisce about country walks in England, the graveyards I still enjoy visiting, the blackberrying and open air vegetable markets, the annual sales and steamed meat puddings, the custards and treacle tarts that I brought with me into my growing up.


Taking a stroll through the woods of the Caspian, Shah chasing a flea

I’d remind my father of the dresses he used to make for me in Beirut for all the Embassy parties he drove me to,

I’d laugh with my mother over the large sips of my fizzy drink she’d take at the swimming club on the banks of the Mediterranean.

We’d giggle about his love of ‘any’ chocolate in the box, when I had only two favorites, the brazil nut or caramel; my day could easily be ruined if someone else was cheeky or thoughtless enough to snatch them up.  Neither my mother or I could imagine randomly picking out ‘any’ chocolate from a box of assorted Black Magic.

When staying with me at Footlights I’d open my Butler’s Pantry to display the china and glass I’ve given a home to all these miles away and watch them shake their heads and wonder why?

They would linger at Footlights with me until they were quite satisfied I’d fared all right, despite their passing, hugged by the trees on my property, surrounded by a few miles of Texas fields reminders of the countryside I’d fallen in love with as a child.

Today I would call and wish my father a Happy Birthday and I’d hear the smile in his voice as he said,

“Oh, hello Vivienne,” three words heavy with love.

I would tell him how much I still miss him and in my mind I’d hear him say,

“I miss you too.”

Yes, I remember the dead every day.

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2018-03-16 20:56:33 Reply

Yes, I remember then fondly as well and miss them – and my father who died 44 years ago last month! Life is so brief and delicate and we usually do not appreciate all we have until it is too late! I appreciate you!

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