All Saints Day

Here in France at Toussaint the tradition is that you visit family graves, taking flowers. For the past few weeks the weekly market has been brightened by stalls selling crysanthemums in pots, or gaudy plastic flowers, for people to buy to put on graves. The cemetary, which we can see from our house, has been very busy today – although some people tried to Beat the Traffic by coming yesterday – and gradually blobs of colour have been appearing midst the funereal grey of this traditionally French cemetary.

I don’t have a grave to visit for my father: his ashes were scattered over one of the Lake District peaks he loved so much (rather surreptitiously, as my Mum didn’t know if it was legal or not!). He has a plaque in the crematorium garden, but that doesn’t mean much to me. My dear Father died in 1990, and it pains me to say that as each year passes I lose a little more of him: my memories are fading. I have a sense of being loved very much by him, but his voice? his face? Despite photos, I struggle to picture him in my mind. Odd souvenirs of him telling stories about Red and Silver, two squirrels who lived in Formby woods…or “buying” my wart from me for sixpence (he was a GP and he quite often did that with children.!! I can’t remember if he was successful in the purchase!)…sitting in the corner at my Nana’s house for Sunday tea, smoking his pipe and reading “The Sunday People” (we were a Guardian family, but “The People” was a guilty pleasure of his!)…and the Bastard Cancer that took him from us far too early.

But in my mind, I place flowers on his non-existent grave.

These are for you, Dad

These are for you, Dad

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