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.