Monday, November 15, 2004

November - 55

Well this month I should become a grandad, tomorrow to be precise if medical predictions are to be believed. A grandson too, somewhere up north, far up on the Scottish coast he will be born, in sight of the sea and the fog and the crashing waves, gull sounds in his little ears. So strange, he will be born in a town a few miles from his great great grandfather's place of birth, born with a northern tongue in his mouth and a salt smell in his nostrils - 99 years after the birth of his great great grandfather, whom I never saw and who never saw me, who died in 1950. A man in a Naval Officer's uniform, framed on the wall in a strange picture of memory, whose name I share. I stared into his dead blue eyes in the frame, puzzled as a child could be. Was he tall or short? Happy or grumpy? Political or religious? Did he laugh, love and cry. I'm sure he was many things and lived a life but died as young as 55. I did not hear his stories, his son (my father) told me very little of him.

My father saw me and didn't see me. We lost each other. Then I lost him altogether, he too died at 55 and now watches over my guarded memory and keeps it from the sentimental and the painful, just enough. Years cause image and feelings erosion and the picture fades but the grandsons and their sons grow up in his and my place.

My son's are the best men in the world. I am a puzzle and an embarrassment to them and as they become fathers the curses of expectation, disappointment and doubt will strike them.
The blessings of love and delight and opportunity will carry them, and I will make it my business to do all I can to live longer than 55.

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