Sunday, 5 July 2009

So long Paw and thanks for all the fish!

Hi there my wee blog. Not posted for a bit. Been away for a couple of weeks on holiday in Switzerland. Great to see the extended family again, to leave our cares and woes behind for a while and to see the lovely G unwind and step back into speaking the language again.
What a magical place it is. Once more we can come back with hearts full of memories and smiles and our batteries charged for another dose of real life. We did lots of travelling with our pre paid travel passes which meant free travel on trains, trams, buses and boats and most of the cable cars too.

I'll post some photos of the holiday soon but today my heart is full of thoughts of Mum and Dad as my side of the family got together yesterday to scatter their ashes. Dad died a couple of months ago aged 83 and we hadn't yet, for many reasons, let go of Mums ashes after she died nearly 2 years ago. Uncle Bill, Dads twin, had come up from down south to stay with Aunt Helen, the youngest sister, for a short holiday and therefore we thought it would be right to bring forward the tentative arrangements my brother Gordon and I had made so that Uncle Bill could play a part too. Dads older sister May was 86 yesterday but is too frail to make he journey from Moray.

As per Mum and Dads' wishes we took half of their ashes and scattered them at Glen Trool in the spot where for many years they went with their caravan. The campsite, next to Loch Trool has been closed for a few years now but we were all able to all get to the spot. No mean feat for Aunt Helen who is 80 or Uncle Bill at 83. So at their spot we scattered their ashes which we had mixed together and gave a short prayer of thanks. Then we walked down to the side of the loch to their favourite spot which they would visit every evening, weather permitting. Its the site of a fallen tree, down more than 30 years now, where the uprooted base and the fallen corpse of the tree have managed to survive and also to throw out new growth, with new branches sprouting out vertically from the prone position of the main tree. Its a lovely spot, right next to the edge of the loch.
{ Dad would have said "at the water lip" with the A flattened to sound like "waa-ter". God I miss his voice! Thinking of how he would have said that made me hear him just now } and the view is quite serene, quite lovely. We took a few photos, or rather Aunt Helen did as she was the only one who thought to bring a camera.

After a while, and having been fiercely attacked by the famed Scottish 'midges' we moved on and prepared to release the rest of Dads ashes. { We are keeping the remaining portion of Mums so that her last surviving sister can be with us when we scatter her final portion of ashes over her Mum and Dads grave}

We drove for an hour back towards home, and stopped for a family dinner at the Hollybush inn, which was one of Dads favourite restaurants. The meal as usual was great and after dinner we drove the last few miles to Gadgirth at Annbank, where Bill and Dad, and indeed the rest of the siblings, had been born and brought up. The twins had always been fascinated by water, prompted no doubt by the river which flowed at the back of the row of four 'room and kitchen' houses. So it was to the bridge at Gadgirth that we went to scatter the last of the ashes.
We went down to the side of the water where uncle Bill said a short prayer and we put the ashes into the water. A grey smudge floated off downstream, and as this happened I noticed the dust which the air had caught was going upstream. As I watched it go, low over the water I felt peaceful, as if I was getting a visual message that as the body goes in one direction the spirit is free to go in another.
Daft I know, but it felt comforting.
I looked back at the spot where the ashes had been tipped in and I saw that there was a lot of ash lying on the river bed and again, I felt comforted as if I was being shown that part of Paw would always be there on that bend of the river he knew so well, and in the very spot where Bill and he often played as kids. I looked back upstream for the small cloud of dust but it had disappeared.
It felt good, and I smiled.

There were of course a few tears shed among us but in a few moments we had begun to reminisce about Paw and his early days here on the water, living at Gadgirth and working at Crawfordson, the local farm. The boys had done this from age about 11 or so and continued to do work for the farm for several years being paid in kind by the farmer. No doubt what they brought home helped the family survive and it also gave them a taste of work and in both of them, a life long respect for nature and farming. Uncle Bill shared a few stories and quite naturally I began to look about the shingle beach on the rivers edge and picked a stone to skim over the water. Soon we were all looking for stones and had a great time and a good laugh for 5 or 10 minutes as we skimmed stones just like the boys had done there so many years before. I'm sure anyone passing would have thought we were daft. 6 grown ups between the ages of 40 and 83 skimming stones, shouting and laughing like loons in the evening sun. It was a good end.

All too soon G and I had to leave as we had a 2 hour drive back across country. G had a headache and was soon asleep in the car which left me to think of Paw as I drove home past so many of the places connected with him. The evening light was stunning and the journey seemed like minutes instead of hours. I found myself looking around as I drove in absolute awe of the beauty that lay all around on the journey back home. Even Glasgow, which only Weegies can surely think of as beautiful made me look and appreciate that it may not be the dour dismal place I always feel it to be.
Maybe Paw was a passenger too, he always made me look at things differently.
So long Paw, and thanks for all the fish......................
"Though your soul may set in darkness
it will rise in perfect light
For you loved the stars too fondly
To be anxious of the night. "
All in all, a good day.

Listening to........ Horse, " The first time ever I saw your face"

The photos are of operation Manna - a food drop into Nazi occupied Holland in April 1945. Dad, who was a tail gunner in a Lancaster, took part in this and was so proud to have been able to drop life rather than destruction out of the plane. In one of the quirks of life, one of the people in the Hague who watched the lancasters flying in very slowly and at zero feet to drop the food and who ran to gather it would become the father of a boy who in turn would become a university chum of my older brother and this earlier connection would only be discovered when the two fathers met in the 1970's several years after their sons had become firm friends.
see you soon...........................


Bovey Belle said...

What a very poignant and moving account. I, too, spread my mother's ashes this summer. I grew up in Southampton and so the New Forest was my playground on summer Sunday afternoons. There were several "favourite spots" which might have been appropriate, but only one held the most memories and the strongest ties, and my mum is there now, in a glade beneath a little huddle of silver birch trees, with the wind sighing through the heather and the ponies gathering in the shade to swish away the flies on hot summer days.

Alistair said...

Thanks for your lovely comment BB.

Its nice to hear that what touches you can strike a chord.

I was very surprised that doing something which quiet frankly I dreaded could be so cathartic, and as I now know can leave good memories and associations to take forward.


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