Friday, August 07, 2009

Reverie in the Attic

Whilst trying to sort some order in the chaos in the attic I came across a bulky, yellow, plastic envelope labelled in my sisters copper plate DADDY. Inside were masses of letters and cards sent to Mum when Dad died in 1990 aged 85. He had a stroke some years earlier and my mother coped valiantly, nursing him downstairs, driving the car ( to do that with Dad in the car took guts –he once switched the ignition off when I was driving MY car) travelling down on the train to visit us and even over to Portugal to house- sit my sister’s house.

They were married for 63 years; Mum was 18 and Dad 22 when they married and my mother was expecting my sister. My Gran was a mid-wife and could be quite fearsome. I asked Mum how she reacted and she said she was totally supportive although Mum had been brought up a Catholic and Dad was Unitarian. One of the three children was christened in the Catholic Church but we were reared as Unitarians so that was one battle Dad won although when I visited Gran she would give me a little prayer book and take me with her to Church on a Sunday – until the day Dad discovered us walking back from Church and whisked me home. That was the end of my new found holiness.

All the letters said what a good man he was – with a twinkle in his eye - and praised Mum for the years of looking after him. One that touched me particularly was from the brother of one of my school friends. Although there was never much money my parents both worked hard so we could escape the dark satanic mills at holiday times and discover the joys and beauty of the Lake District- climbing the mountains and fishing in the lakes. I t was a real life Swallows and Amazons. How lucky we were.

Geoffrey, a friend of Jack’s came with us some times; in his letter he says:

I remember so many happy times with you both, and will always hold these memories very dearly. You both introduced me to many joys and I will always treasure those memories.

Dad would have been pleased.

23 comments:

Queenie said...

What a lovely thing to find. And those holidays sound wonderful - I loved the Swallows & Amazons books.

PI said...

Queenie; as they are some of my happiest memories I tried to do the same with my children - and so it goes.

Leah said...

It is always bittersweet to find something like that--brings one suddenly, startlingly back...

I still haven't been able to really look at the condolence letters sent after my dad's death...maybe someday though.

It's testament to what we've all been talking about recently--the handwritten letter, and all of its tenderness.

Your childhood does sound very lucky and lovely indeed.

angryparsnip said...

Awwwwwwww, Thanks for the lovely Friday post.
Isn't it grand that how we live in our everyday life comes back to us as a special moment in time for others.
hugs. . .

Eryl Shields said...

What a wonderful find, Pat, to be reminded unexpectedly of the good things about your parents. Love the photos especially the very bottom one where your dad has his hand on your mum's waist in that very dramatic landscape: so romantic. x

PI said...

Leah: it's the first time in 19 years I have read them properly and I still can't read my mother's.
I seemed to be given special strength when Dad died to protect Mum and managed to quell my emotions. I became the Daddy.
It was a different story when Mum died.

Parsnip: I'm glad you enjoyed it. The afternoon vanished in a trice:)

Eryl: yes it's sweet isn't it. We always were a touchy, feely family and I thought it was so sweet that my brother - to the end of his life - would kiss my father.

Krimo said...

Lovely memories, Pat. 63 years. Marvelous!

kenju said...

How lovely to know that people thought well of him. I found that out about my dad when he died and I always hoped he knew it too.

Z said...

Years ago, I helped my husband sort out the house of an old lady who had died and whose furniture was going for auction - you have to check everything in case jewellery or money is in drawers before the removers come in. We'd known her and when my father died she had written to my mother, and I found the letter my mother had written in reply. That was a peculiar feeling.

Cinnamon said...

What a lovely find- and one which provokes such acute memories. 63 years is certainly an achievement. I hope you find the strength to read your mother's one day.

I enjoyed your photos of camping in the lake district :)

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

What a lovely treasure, Pat....I can see why that letter touched your Heart, my dear. ts lovely that all these letters were kept, you know? Sometimes we forget how others see our parents---especially in their later years.

Jimmy Bastard said...

Treasured memories Pat, and even the tears can be a good thing when it comes to remembering the better times from the past.

I too have letters that I will one day open and hopefully be able to read again.

sablonneuse said...

Isn't it amazing how powerful letters can be. I'm pleased they brought back happy memories for you.

john.g. said...

Beautiful! That is all Mum2!

PI said...

Krimo: they were an prime example of how one can stay young at heart.

Judy: I think the ability to make people laugh is a great gift and Dad had it.

Z: it never fails to amaze me how we forget our parents and older people in general have the same secrets, feelings, passions, relationships and complicated lives regardless of age. As Edith Evans said when she was about 90.
'I'm always a little bit in love with someone.'

Cinnamon: I'm glad you like the old photos.

PI said...

Naomi: yes I was meant to be clearing stuff but those were put back in place.

Jimmy: my heart goes out to you love.

PI said...

Sandy: yes it was long enough away to be totally happy and let's face it - I'll hopefully be joining them. I Don't mean I want it to be soon but I hope I'll be in the same place:)

John.g: xoxoxox

Kath said...

That is incredible! What a wonderful thing to have happen.

PI said...

Kath: you never know what you may find in the attic. It certainly passed a few hours pleasantly.

R. Sherman said...

Catching up, as usual.

Great stuff here and it's good to be reminded of our departed loved ones from time to time, assuming we ever forget, which is not likely.

I loved the photos. What's interesting is that in B&W the landscape looks a lot like the sagebrush plains of the Great Basin here in the western U.S. I'm sure it's not at all like that, and you can see your memories in color. Alas, the rest of us must look back through the glass of time darkly.

Cheers.

PI said...

Randall: 'Alas, the rest of us must look back through the glass of time darkly.'

I knew there was a poet lurking in there:)

Edelweiss Transplanted said...

That was lovely. You are so lucky to have those letter still ... and all the memories to go with them.

PI said...

Edelweiss: it would be very hard to leave here; the whole house is full of memorabilia and all the extended family have spent time here.