How very kind you are; thank you for saying nice things about this blog.Your comments gladden the heart and give me all the encouragement I need to continue.
It is as if we’ve been sending out ‘come hither before darkness falls’ vibes; friends and family have turned up on the doorstep, announced and unannounced, but all welcomed with open arms. It’s not as if we were on a beaten track, living where we do, miles from any fast road, with no airports or big cities within easy reach; it therefore behoves us to appreciate these visits even more.
First came Philip, John, and Marilyn, the latter with their unruly dog, who raced about the house, under tables, on beds and sofas, on the lookout for food to steal. Millie was quite put out. Beloved had a lovely time with them, rehashing ancient histories about concerts, conductors and colleagues. We hadn’t seen Philip for a few years, he spends much time abroad, getting himself known as a composer. (I looked him up online, his works are performed by more orchestras in the US than in the UK).
Another musician, Judy, and her architect husband Peter (hurrah, someone for me to talk to - not a musician) came next. The doorbell went and there she stood. “I hope we find a welcome? Please?” That’s Australians for you. She said so herself. "On the way from somewhere to somewhere". We hadn’t seen Judy for years and Beloved was thrilled to chew the fat with her. Musicians are a gossipy lot.
Family came too. More signs of autumn, the personal kind. They visited after giving due notice, as our family does. Nick and his wife Ali, who live in Massachusetts, decided that if they had to come to see Beloved before his personal winter sets in, they might as well make a proper trip of it, travelling to Holland, France and Italy, both to see family and the sights. They were with us for just an afternoon and evening; the visit went off well, during those few hours we found plenty to discuss. Some of it catching up, some of it current affairs and politics. Our conversations usually have some depth, even if we don’t always all agree with each other.
Sally, one of Beloved’s daughters, stayed slightly longer; Beloved and she looked at old family photos and told stories of past generations. Sally is an archaeologist and history, both personal and the academic kind, are her great interest. She has written a number of books about the area of Southern England where she lives.
I wonder if any of you have similar experiences to mine. Beloved and I have been married for thirty years and in all that time his children and I - apart from one daughter - were never on really cordial terms. We never fell out and the relationships have got better over the years, but real warmth was always lacking. Until now. I am not looking to blame anyone, there are always two sides to every story, but a more relaxed attitude would have made our lives more pleasant. Always having to be careful, always afraid of slights, always preparing oneself for a visit by donning some kind of armour, make for uneasy situations.
As I said, meetings during the past few years have been less of an ordeal (oh dear, that does make it sound difficult!) and these visits in recent weeks have been a genuine pleasure. In fact, I liked both of them so much that I gave them keepsakes: Beloved’s Breitling watch for Nick and two pairs of earrings of mine for Sally. (Does that count as the sort of kindness I mentioned in my previous post?) We parted on the very best of terms, with close hugs; Sally almost shed a tear while she whispered “thank you” in my ear, and Ali, Beloved’s daughter in law, who has been the most difficult of them all, made a special effort to praise me for taking such good care of her father in law. She thanked Beloved for being the kind of man he is and for having raised his son to become a wonderful partner for her and a devoted father to their children.
I was touched. Why do people soften so when it’s almost too late? I know that we may not see them again, this was a kind of leave-taking. Father, son and daughter were all very aware of this fact, but nobody put it into words. The feeling was there and there were both sadness and gratitude in the air, unspoken.