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Friday, 24 January 2014

Unconditional Love

This week I went to an interment. My uncle died in the summer, after a short illness, and we were unable to attend the funeral as we were away on holiday. Maybe it's because I didn't get the chance to say goodbye that I have found it difficult to believe he has gone. He was an exceptional person, intelligent, sociable, patient, generous, handsome even in old age, warm and wise. He was a businessman and a brave man who served with the Royal Engineers in Burma during the Second World War. But above all he was a family man. As one of my cousins said, he and my aunt instinctively seemed to know how to be good parents. I would add to that a good brother, sister, aunt, uncle and wonderful grandparents and friends.

My uncle was a steady presence, always the same, and in the turmoil which has sometimes engulfed my life that constancy was incredibly reassuring. All of use who knew and loved him have lost someone and something irreplaceable. Yet at the same time I am so grateful to have known him, to have learned many things from him, to have been able to call him family.

A couple of years before he died I went over for lunch. I was standing in the kitchen and he came up behind me in his usual quiet way. He didn't speak, but put his arm around me and gave me an unexpected hug. It was one of those moments I shall never forget. Everything about him was contained in that hug, all of those qualities I have mentioned, all of the endless love of which he had so much to give. In that moment I felt absolutely safe, completely understood. It was a gift which cost nothing, yet I shall treasure it to my dying day.

On the way home from the interment, the afternoon clouds were rimmed with a bright pale gold and a song came on the radio; Rag Doll by Franki Valli and The Four Seasons. There is a line in that song - I love you just the way you are. That sums up my uncle. Unconditional love.

Today his remains are where he wanted them to be, alongside his beloved wife and his parents in an English country churchyard, bordered by the woods he used to play in as a boy.

Snowdrops are in bud in the surrounding grass, the brook gurgles its song just over the wall. Over the road, horses, blanketed against the cold weather, graze in a meadow. My uncle may have gone from this world but his spirit lives on. I hope it is flying amidst the trees and across those fields. I hope he knew how much he was loved by so many people.
Thank-you for dropping by. Have a good week.


  1. What a beautiful and moving memorial.

  2. Thank-you Ros. The way he lived his life will continue to influence the way I conduct mine although I think I will fall very short.