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Au Revoir

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Monday 12 September 2011

Au Revoir

Last Thursday started grey and dull. In the morning I was busy with some design work, at lunch time I went to look at a couple of houses for sale. In the afternoon I rang the hospital as Dad was about to go to surgery. He had broken his hip a couple of days before in a silly fall, just missed the edge of his chair as he was sitting down.. we’ve all done it!. At 6 the sky had cleared the evening was beautiful. I walked east, along the shore line, through the wood and up to the road.

Half way there I heard the geese coming. They flew overhead noisy and low. Just in small groups but all heading the same way. I followed them up to the top field. There in the low sun was a convocation of geese, a great noisy wonderful gathering. They flew in from every direction, in pairs, in groups of 6 or 7, in small arrow shaped flights, lone birds and stragglers. The sun caught their wings as they circled for landing. They kept coming and coming. I searched for my white goose, the single white goose I had seen the other day, but it was not there. Gone home perhaps, back to the farmyard after its taste of freedom? I stayed to watch for a while before turning west to go home.
Banks of night clouds had built up over the water and a lowering red sun was picking out the details of their puckered and ribbed underbellies. Great shafts of light soared up between them into the sky like lasers. It was a beautiful evening.

At 7 I rang the hospital again. Dad was fine, out of surgery if a bit groggy, nothing to worry about, all went well etc etc.. but then at 9, a call from them.

I got there in time. In time to hold onto his hand, to kiss his cheek, stroke his hair and tell him how special he was. I wish I could say it was a graceful and gentle slipping away, it was not. It was a battle, but one he could not win this time.

The nurse was wonderful. I went to make some calls and returned to find a white flower placed over his heart. “I’ve opened the window” she said, “ Just my little ritual”.

I thought about my white goose. Perhaps, being a knowing bird, it had winged its way north, waiting patiently, hour on hour, to do me one last service, to carry the indomitable spirit of a good and much loved man up, up, up and away.

Au revoir

grafham evening sky


Blogger Bumblebee said...

I'm so so sorry Val. I hope you're alright. Sending lots of hugs your way. :*(** xxx

12 September 2011 at 19:39  
Blogger Threadspider said...

I am in tears writing this but sharing in your sense of the geese having come to call him home. My very deepest sympathies and kindest wishes.

12 September 2011 at 19:41  
Blogger Diana Studer said...

Ah, I didn't expect that. My thoughts are with you.

12 September 2011 at 20:18  
Anonymous Jose Santos said...

My thoughts are with you.

12 September 2011 at 22:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing so eloquently the loss of your father. I hope you find solace in your memories and your art.

13 September 2011 at 02:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for you. There is reason for hope! More love than we can imagine awaits us! Eye has not seen, ear has not heard.

13 September 2011 at 03:14  
Blogger Ruth said...

I am truly sorry for your loss! Your post is wonderful, and so very brave of you to put up.

I will pray for you and your family, and say a very special prayer for your Dad.


13 September 2011 at 07:13  
Blogger Mellissa Tracy Bushby said...

I have so often wanted to write to you and say 'how lovely' or 'how exquisite' regarding your bees, or lowers. I am sorry I missed the oppurtunities, as I would have liked to say 'well done!' I somehow always ended up 'lost' in daily life. But, now I am going to stop for just a while, and comment on your post. What a sad, and beautiful eulogy for an obviously dear father. Sometimes they are only borrowed, just as, possibly, was the white goose - a guide to light the way when the time came for a new adventure.

13 September 2011 at 08:53  
Anonymous Sandra said...

Bless you and you family. This is a beautiful piece, your photo and your writing. I hope peace finds its place in your heart.


13 September 2011 at 13:46  
Blogger Mary Frances Emmons said...

I know we don't really know each other but I have continued to follow and love your blog since we featured your work in the Orlando Sentinel a couple of years back; this is such a lovely tribute, it brought tears to my eyes. Your father was clearly a very fortunate man to have you as a daughter.
With much sympathy,
Mary Frances Emmons

13 September 2011 at 14:34  
Blogger sharp green pencil said...

I just don't know what to say! Such kind words from you all and I regard you all as good friends.

I was not sure whether write about dear Dad. Over the last year he has been such a worry,but so much fun,such a tie, yet such good company.
He never once spoke of death. Has left no instructions so it will have come as a surprise and an affront! We have had to put our lives on pause. But to keep him home and as happy as we could was worth that small amount of time. He deserved a special mention. Thank you all again.

13 September 2011 at 15:18  
Blogger Curbstone Valley Farm said...

Val, I am so sorry about the passing of your father. I don't comment much, but I do read your blog, and admire your beautiful illustrations. Please accept my sincerest condolences.

- Clare

14 September 2011 at 04:49  
Blogger Gabrielle said...

Val, I am so sorry for your loss. I too am crying from reading your post. As everyone has said, you've written a beautiful tribute to your dad. His nurse sounds like an incredibly compassionate and lovely person. What a wonderful ritual!

Like you, I found comfort in nature when I lost my dad. Be good to yourself.

14 September 2011 at 20:45  
Blogger Lisa said...

Sending kind thoughts your way.

Even though we don't "know" each other, I was thinking of you today. I was actually wishing you were at my house, because a lovely new-to-me metallic green bee had discovered the flowers I'd planted.

18 September 2011 at 09:01  
Blogger Dani said...

My heart aches for you. And your dad.

But I'm sure that you gain comfort from knowing that he loved you, as he knew you loved him.

Take care.

18 September 2011 at 10:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



18 September 2011 at 18:17  
Blogger sharp green pencil said...

Again, many thanks to you all Hugs, kind thoughts and sympathy all very welcome. The limbo of waiting for the funeral is nearly over. The geese have not been around much recently, off doing important things for others I hope. I had not realised their cultural significance until several people told me about various legends.. as Heidi has just commented on "Clearing the air"..nice!

24 September 2011 at 07:15  
Blogger Ellen Rathbone said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, but what a beautiful tribute. And what a wonderful nurse.

16 October 2011 at 01:29  

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