Reading Dad's Journals

My beloved Dad kept journals for many years. He died in 2008. And now I have to read them…

Tag: memories

Trigger me to write, why don’t you?

It started with a cracked brown jug. Under a grey sky, chirping birds, and a homework deadline. Or did it start with the flowers I put in the jug? I guess it’s hard to trace back the precise moment an emotion is created; slowly expanding down neural pathways, triggering related connections, sparking life into old circuits. Whatever the moment, it came into focus on Dad’s old jug, sitting on my timber shelf above the sink. I’d inherited it from his home in Canada, and this was only the second time I’d actually used it:


It can be an insignificant moment, putting flowers into a vase. Some people do it every day, like florists for example. Or nurses in hospitals. Just an ordinary act: trimming the stems, removing an errant leaf, perhaps adding a pinch of sugar to the water.

Or it can be profound. The first bunch of flowers received from a new beau. A souvenir wedding bouquet for the lucky bridesmaid who caught it. A spontaneous gathering of wildflowers by a visiting grandchild. These posies seem more important, more valuable. Worthy of a grander vase perhaps?

My flowers smelt beautiful; Singapore lilies, mixed with various green leaves. They looked perfect in Dad’s old jug, and it felt good to dust it off. Then I thought about how often he’d used it, taking it down from the top shelf behind the door in his long kitchen. I remembered filling it with water, and once, with homemade lemonade that was a bit too tart, but I was trying to cut down on sugar.

I remembered peeling off the bubble wrap that had delivered it to my door in Australia after he died, praying that it wasn’t chipped or broken. I’d double bubbled it for the drive from Adelaide, and had kept it in the car with me and the meowing cat all the way up North to our new home.

Now the jug sits on my table, full of flowers, and I’ve been filled with memories of Dad. I haven’t written this blog for ages- months and months; I’ve been wondering if its time had finished? But this entry feels easy, a nice gentle return to the blogosphere. A reminder that inspiration can come from anything, at any time, and all we have to do is be open and ready for it. Plus, we need a good soundtrack:


It’s good to be back! Now what’s the last thing that jogged your memory about a lost loved one?


6.56am: from Paris arrived the black & white bomb

I can’t help myself: pretty much every morning when I wake up, I turn on my phone and check my emails. Rubbing the sleep away, squinting a little without my reading glasses, just connecting with the wide world to make sure I’m not missing anything important… Then I’ll proceed with my daily routine as usual.

This morning, an innocent photo image arrived from an old friend. He’s travelling with his wife in Europe, playing in the snow, wearing layers of clothes, while we back home swelter in 40+ degrees heat and bushfires.

It was like a small bomb detonated in my chest.

I began to sob; no thought, no delay, no control. Incredible. The power of the element of surprise hey?

I was soft, relaxed, as yet unguarded or prepared for my day. Interesting to realize later. So I just sat in bed and had a good cry; only lasted a few minutes. Then I replied with a thankyou, and asked permission to use the image for my blog. Here it is:


Bombs come in many shapes don’t they, in as many shapes as we do? This one was mine. One of Dad’s favourite places in Paris, a place he took us every time my brother and I came to visit from our home in England. His partner at the time worked there too, so I really thought she was the coolest woman ever! We called it the ‘inside out building’, and delighted in riding the escalators up to the top, simply to come back down again.

That building, the Centre Pompidou, represented all to me that I didn’t have in my life back then: innovation, creativity, colour and texture, libraries of images, word, sound from across the world… And all free to access. I remember feeling as though my head and heart expanded every time we went there.

‘Centre Georges Pompidou’ link

No wonder I didn’t quite fit in at my small country school in Devon.

The ‘inside out building’ made me long to be different too; it encouraged me somehow, just standing there with its pipes and airducts on display, no shame in showing its construction and framework. It was strong, and simple. No airs. What you saw is what you got.

I sat on the bed and cried, not just for Dad, or his wonderful, favourite building. I cried a little for the complicated, checked/balanced/organised person I’ve necessarily become, managing a house and child and three jobs.

But it only takes a tiny black and white bomb to reveal to me my simplicity again, sitting there with my heart on display: a child who misses her Dad, and the wonder of the world he showed her.



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