IN MEMORIAM 90315 (1911-1991)
We were living in a country with earth red and white as flesh, where shadows thrown by leaves are sharp as blades.
You shared it with me: we drove North, and also South amongst places with names meaning “Sound of the wind in the trees” and “The stamp of the elephant”, crossing rivers in the Land Rover on floating rafts and rickety wooden bridges.
My small self stood near the edge of the lagoon, quite still, in the newness of wonder at a flushing sunset, the air of which I felt my very skin to be drinking in, while you, unbeknownst, watched over me from close by among the towering, rustling grasses. Later, in darkness, and wrapped in my special blanket, you lifted me up out of sleep to see the fireflies emerging as though bom among the sparks from the camp fire.
While my small feet still fitted on top of yours, we clasped hands and danced together, you stepping out for both of us.
You filtered the adult world for me. Nevertheless, you responded carefully to the questions of a puzzled 7 year-old, with meanings which at the time were astounding to her : meanings of the words “suicide”, “drug addict”, “fractured skull”.
Later, we clasped hands for the dipping and twirling waltzes that you allowed my exuberant, teenage self steal from you and my Mother. My ideal ballroom partner, holding me just right, with hands that could soothe large animals and charm smaller ones. Hands that had also been trained how to kill.
Much later when we, unknowingly, said goodbye for the last time, I wrapped my arms right around you, now become frail and delicate as a flamingo.
Between us, there will be no more clasping of hands. There is none to be had in the placing of mine on the red earth over you in the hope of some kind of synaptic leap across infinity. Yet, you are as close as clasping hand to hand with myself. It is me. And, it is you.
Stay close to me my dear Father.