Sunday, 22 July 2007

Things you carry

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.


Merkin said...

Looks like an Ibanez Les Paul Recording.

Special low-impedance pickups to allow the use of an extra long lead, phase switch etc.
As good a memorial as any, and better than most for a player.

lavenderblue said...

Beautiful Writing,trousers .thinking of you xx

ario said...

Wow. That really grabbed me. I was just passing by (I really should be working). But that was emotional. I don't know Mr T. From one bloke to the next bloke: big hug.

trousers said...

merkin, full marks to you - and sincere thanks to you, lav and ario for those kind thoughts. Greatly appreciated.

Caroline said...

Your words are filled with emotion and your voice is constant. I can hear you speaking. Hugs honey x

But Why? said...

A beautiful, beautiful post. Great writing.

For me, the most evocative artefacts left by loved ones since departed are the instruments and tools used in work or pleasure. At the risk of soundling like sentimental tosh, there's something so very nearly tangible of all the frustrations and triumphs experienced in use that brings memories of them closer and more real.

trousers said...

Caroline, thank you.

Same goes for you too, but why? - and thanks too for stopping by.

anticant said...

You're right about anniversaries. I suppose they perform a useful function for people - most people! - who aren't habitually mindful.

I'm enmeshed in a rather public one at the moment, which is making me rather grumpy as there is so much ignorance and misinformation being talked around it.

On the anniversary of my father's death my mother used to ask me "Do you remember what day it is, dear?" I replied "yes", and changed the subject because I didn't need a special date to remind me of my sadness about my father. Nor do I need it for my mother's memory.

zola a social thing said...

That Guitar is not weeping it is still playing.
Emotional stuff Trousers but it was kind of beautiful.
I mean that from my own heart.

Sinister Welder said...

I remember that day 11 years ago so clearly mate. I wanted to salute you and his memory sah!

So you've moved me to set up a profile.

See you there soon. And when we get together in person, we must smoke a Cuban Cigar while listening to Thelonious Monk.

Anna MR said...

Housut honey - such a lovely, wistful piece of writing, you got me all emotional. I am with you and Dr Why in finding that people somehow live on in the objects they used to handle - books, tools, and so on - and a musical instrument is of course a particularly powerful one, really having a voice of its own.

Hugs from the Northern Lands, housut...


trousers said...

anticant - it's ironic that in writing a post which was mainly going to be about not attaching too much importance to anniversaries, I ended up feeling quite emotional about it.

A pity (if that doesn't sound too trite) to hear about the misinformation flying around - but I suppose that's the inevitable downside of that anniversary being a very public one (not that it should be that way).

zola, sincere thanks - lovely comment.

*adopts Bond-style voice*
Ah, mishter welder, I've been exshpecting you...
cheers for that, and I look forward to a bit of Thelonious Monk.

trousers said...

Oh hello anna mr, you sneaked in - hugs gratefully received, thank you!

Yes I didn't say much in response to b-w, but I do agree with the point that she and you make, most definitely.

As a post script to yesterday, I went out and had a great time in the evening, seeing a mad musician (going under the name "Company Fuck") doing, er, mad music, and I haven't laughed so much in a good while. I toddled home feeling great after a really nice time.

Pixie said...

That is a lovely tribute to your father. And so good that you have something of his that means something to you.
Hugs and sweet thoughts.

DJ Kirkby said...


Charlotte said...

What a beautiful post, and what a lovely connection you have to your Dad.

There are no headstones for my grandparents either and I have felt sad about that. However I have in my bedroom a chest that once stood in their hallway and that, like your Dad's guitar, serves as a reminder of what they meant to me.

trousers said...

pixie, dj kirkby, charlotte - thank you all very much x

NMJ said...

hey trousers, is lovely you have this guitar to symbolise what your dad meant to you, you write about him with such warmth & respect and that makes me glad. anniversaries, helpful as they can be, are really just a way of scheduling emotions, but as you say, emotions come of their own accord. those are the best ones, the unscheduled.

trousers said...

Well put nmj :)