Last evening there was a terrific thunderstorm. Apocalyptic in its intensity and ferocity. Enormous hail stones rattled the car roofs and sheets of rain sluiced down the road outside. It was one of those storms where the sky is so black and the clouds so low that you feel if you step outside you might be gathered up into an inky oblivion. But the storm wrack rolled on east and from beneath its westerly tip, just before slipping over the horizon, the fiery sun lit up the last of the rain.
It was the most perfect double rainbow I have ever seen. Projected onto the retreating darkness it was huge and luminous and almost overhead. Too wide for a full camera shot, which anyway could not have described the majesty of its presence. It held its brilliance for just a few minutes and within its shining arc a flock of white terns danced and then dashed away. I was left wondering if birds can see rainbows.
This morning is calm, clear and peaceful. It’s been a hard week, so much harder than I had thought. I cleared the silent and still house of pills, medical notes and the awkward ugly hardware of infirmity. My sister and I made the calls, arranged things, searched for contacts, ploughed through 50 years of paperwork, much of it annotated with my father’s small accountants handwriting. We have opened ancient shirt boxes tied with string and found wonderful things, old identity cards, a ration book, the poignant death certificate of a baby brother. Medals never worn or cared much about. Army stuff, old cameras. We are doing well. But there are some things I am not quite ready to tackle. The box marked “Wartime letters”, letters between Mum and Dad, they just have to wait awhile.
But Dad was not one to dwell on things so neither should we. He was a practical man and forward looking. He regarded his failing health with frustration rather than self pity, never mentioned the possibility of death and defiantly left no “arrangements”. I think he felt he would live for ever. In response to the recent suggestion that I whisk him away for another Spanish holiday to beat the winter blues, he said “ Well, why not?”.
Why not indeed Dad! I might just take half those ashes to the Costa del Sol!
Dad at a sprightly 89 sporting what we laughingly called his film director sunglasses. He is in his element, basking in a sunny little bar on top of the magnificent El Chorro Gorge close to where I used to live. We had sun-kissed olives, manchego cheese dripping with olive oil, slices of tortilla, albondigas in rich tomato sauce and thin slivers of buttery Serrano ham, warm bread, cool beer and a little glass of delicious icy fino. The plates were clean. On the back of the photo we wrote “ Dad, as film director, El Chorro “ he wrote. “A good holiday!”
Thank you all, my lovely friends for your wonderful comments, emails, Skypes, cards, calls and messages. They are so very welcome.. He would be thrilled!