As I mentioned in passing in my previous post, today marks 11 years since the death of my dad. I'd been wondering on and off lately whether I might do a series of pieces about this - the few days leading up to his death, and the few days following on from it. I may well do so at some point, because apart from the very deep sadness woven into those days, it was for me a genuinely unique, interesting, special time (I've alluded to this, albeit indirectly, in a previous post).
Presently though, I don't feel the need to place ever so much emphasis on this - I'll write about it when it feels right to do so. Because apart from a few moments to give pause for reflection and a firm nod of respect, I've never really focussed all that much on this particular day or date. Last year, the tenth anniversary, passed without me even being aware of it til later that week, and that in itself felt quite healthy.
What I think I'm trying to say is that memories, thoughts and emotions will present themselves at any given moment, for any number of possible reasons, and that's when I'll give them their due significance: an anniversary, in itself, doesn't necessarily do that for me.
But I'll share the following, if you don't mind.
My dad was cremated. There's no headstone or memorial of any kind to mark his passing - no churchyard to go to, to lay flowers or pay our respects. This had been my mum's decision - we did discuss this, I remember, and though I wasn't fully comfortable with it, I didn't really question it.
The result, however, was that I had to find my own way of remembering him and paying my respects. It was a struggle, since a gravestone is a point of focus, an anchor. Finally I came to a point of realisation. A few years previously, my dad had given me his guitar - without any pomp or ceremony, it was just that mine needed some repair work and my band had a few gigs to play. He'd never asked for it back.
I'm sure that to some degree I got, among many other things, my love of music from him. Definitely my appreciation of jazz and blues. He was also surprisingly (to me) receptive to some of the weird records that I would bring back home and play.
Anyway, the guitar now serves to symbolise how I remember him. It does it, I think, far better than any gravestone: more personal, more fitting - it says so much more about him and me. Also, like his memory, it has been there with me wherever I am.
The memory of him, I'll always carry with me regardless. It does, of course, have a certain weight. I'm thankful to reflect that it isn't a burden.
Despite what I wrote in the first part of this post, now I'm getting emotional.