It’s saddening to realise the only social occasions I’ll have attended this week are funerals. On Tuesday, it was my close friend’s mother I said farewell and safe journey to, and today it will be a dear old gent I class as a friend, who is also an icon of my home town.
Strange, as I was only thinking of him Tuesday, on the way home from the memorial service. His small miner’s cottage, perched on the side of the hill above the dam looked neglected. It’s rare that I pass that way without thinking of ‘Old Arch’. There was always a smile and glint of mischief in his eyes whenever we met. The last conversation we shared was some time ago, after he had been admitted to the local hospital. Then, he was as feisty as ever and giving the nurses cheek. He was also writing his memoirs and I can’t help but wonder if he completed the task before the final call. Over the past twenty years, I’ve been privileged to hear some of his exploits and adventures. Living until the grand age of ninety-nine, he had plenty to tell about. I hope he wrote them all down.
Both Old Arch and my friend’s mother were one-love people, both widowed, both reasonably content with memories of their departed partners. Old Arch, I know, never stopped missing his wife, even after decades. The chains of love come in all manner of guises, from ephemeral threads that are wrenched asunder by a broken promise, to forged but invisible links, stonger that steel, that nothing can dent, let alone separate.
The two people who have gone from my life this week will always remain in my thoughts and affections, no matter who else comes and goes. If, when my time comes, I too remain in the hearts of others, inspiring a thought and a smile, I’ll count myself blessed and my life a success. Yes, it would be great to be remembered for my artwork and my writing, having made some small measure of difference to the lives of friends, family and those I’ve never met. However, it’s in the bonds I form with folk in my immediate ken, whether sharing blood ties or not, that I see the proof of my existence, my connection to the human family.
Studio and writing time are diminished today, but that’s okay. Some days, it’s necessary to step away from the easel or put down the pen, for the moment shelve my imagination, and get out into the real world. Some days, my community calls for my presence, just as I hear the call to join my tribe. How else do I know I am of the world as well as in it? How else do I gain the experiences that make up a life successfully lived? The chains of love, though binding are not, in this case, shackles.