Monday 9 September 2013

Rites of Passage

Summer's over, it's back to school and back to my blog, however before I get back to posting about daily life, style, fashion and the like, I need a moment of introspection.  Sitting here at my desk, with the late Summer sun pouring in through my window I'm reflecting on all that has happened over the past two months. You may well ask where have I been all this time and why the silence?  Well it's been a funny old Summer really, life has thrown itself at me in ways I couldn't possibly have imagined and I have lived to tell the tale, the same person yet fundamentally changed.

Photo: Pinterest

You see, my beloved Dad died suddenly during the first week of the Summer holidays and the axis of my existence has shifted irrevocably. Nothing can prepare you for the gaping hole of grief that threatens to swallow you whole, turn blue skies grey, laughter to tears and hope to despair.  It feels as if you will never emerge back into the blinking light of normality and yet you have to, and everyday life pulls you back into the moment and you carry on, somehow.

My Dad was a warm, generous family man and in his heyday a true bon viveur and the life and soul of any party. I have one beautiful older sister, and if he ever wanted boys, he never let on - we were his girls and he loved us fiercely, expecting the best from us and wanting the best for us. He taught me a myriad things: how to ski, how to mix the perfect G&T,  how to stand up for myself, how to expect high standards in life, how to love. Long before Wikipedia there was my Dad - he knew everything about anything, even the most obscure facts and his thirst for knowledge was infectious - there are still some really weird things that I find myself knowing, all thanks to him.

My parents would have been married for 52 years today and the poignancy of today's date brings the memories flooding back as they have been all Summer.  When a person is still with us but nearing the end of their life, you tend to only concentrate on the here and now, the difficulties, the problems, the rigours of old age, the sadness and pain of ill health. Yet now I find myself on the other side of this inevitable rite of passage, the stories, scenes and souvenirs of my past are vibrantly replayed, as if I am watching my early life on Super 8 - the picture is a bit distorted, the sound isn't always clear, but the images still burn bright and remind me that all these pieces of the puzzle are what makes me who I am today.

My father had the most wonderful hands - strong, square, warm, firm hands that could soothe away all ills with one stroke on the forehead, and I find myself doing the same for my two boys. Walking hand in hand he would give mine a squeeze and I would squeeze back, a little thing I have taught both my boys to do, and so the family traditions continue. What I wouldn't give to hold those hands again, but in my heart I do. The writer John Niven wrote a very moving article recently about losing a family member that closes with the Philip Larkin quote "What will survive of us is love." I couldn't have put it better myself, except perhaps to quote Dad who would have said "If life gives you lemons, make gin and tonic." Cheers, my wonderful Da.


Alex Coltart said...

Thank you for that wonderful piece Jules. It did made me cry but I can so relate to all the things you wrote about your dad and I think talking about it is so important. Much love to you, Alex

Juliette Chisholm said...

I think letting the grief out is a vital step towards finding the path forward. It's important to talk, to share, to cry and then to smile, to remember and to carry on. They are very proud of us, we can be sure of that. Thank you for your kind words and love to you. J xx

Micala said...

Sitting here in tears after reading your post. I'm so sorry to hear about your Dad Jules. What a beautiful way of describing the love you had for each other. Big big hugs and plenty of G and Ts to your family (just T for the kids) xx

Juliette Chisholm said...

Thank you Cala, didn't mean to make you cry, but it felt right to put it down on (virtual) paper. Thanks for reading and love to you. J x

Nita said...

what a lovely, touching tribute to your dad, sending hugs A xxx

Juliette Chisholm said...

Thank you A for reading and for all your support. Love to you, Jx