My Dearest Eileen
Came across these words recently. They're from John Mortimer's memoir Clinging to the Wreckage'.
'The past is like a collection of photographs; some are familiar and on constant display, others need searching for in dusty drawers.'Well, as you know, over the years we have accumulated a large collection of photographs from our time together. As I go through them, sorting them out over the coming months, they will prompt lots of memories and reminiscences for me to share with you. And I will.
But it's the ones I have rediscovered since you went away - not in a dusty drawer but in a battered old brown case - that I now I need to deal with as well.
They're the ones that came to me when my mother died. They have been sitting there, largely unopened and unexplored ever since.
Kane family photographs, lots of them, that go back to the long-ago time before we ever met - or I was born.
It will be fifty years ago next year since my father died And over thirty five years since my mother passed away.
For their sakes - and for the sakes of Charlotte and Adrian, the grandchildren they never or barely knew - I want to put together a family 'memoir', filling in the background to the photographs and other memories, as best I can.
This is why, after Nicola's wedding, I headed on up to Stranraer and crossed to Belfast on the ferry, to spend a couple of weeks over there, talking to people and tracking back over once familiar territory.
On the whole it was a good trip. I collected some interesting recollections and stories about my father and I was able to borrow several albums with photographs.
I stirred up some memories and learned some new things. It would have been good to have you to share these with. But of course that's no longer possible.
Cannot tell you how much I really miss being able to talk to you at times like these.
I had taken my father's cups with me, the ones he won when he was the leading athlete of his day at school. After Leslie and I had cleaned them up I took them back to the school and presented them to the Museum.
The Curator was really pleased to receive them and has already made a special display of them - including some photographs of him that I took back as well - recording his athletic record while at the school.
We are all really pleased he will be seen and remembered in this way.
There were some low moments. Macosquin looked grey and dreary in the rain and the house looked unkempt and uncared for.
'Peruna' was even worse. It's now hemmed by in the worst kind of 'cowboy' development and the quiet sand dunes and beach where, as boys, we played long ago, have disappeared under an eyesore of holiday apartments.
The worst moment of all was going up to the graveyard on my last afternoon there.
As I sat there in the sunshine, close to the graves of my parents and grandparents, and uncles and aunts, I could not help but be upset by all the people - and now especially you, my lovely Eileen - who have enriched my life and are now no longer part of it.
I was very glad I was completely alone for a while.
There was, however, a little moment that did bring a smile through the tears.
Before heading up to the graveyard I had looked in vain for a flower shop in Portrush.
All I could find was a filling station with a very limited display. I wanted something colourful and picked the one bright bunch they had.
As I was paying for them the lady on the till said, in her strong accent, 'Oh, I can see you have some really nice 'Orange' lilies there.'
It was too late to change them as she had already rung them up. And there wasn't much else. So I took them.
After I had laid them on their grave, feeling just a mite uncomfortable, I could see you beside me - a wistful smile on your face, that ever understanding twinkle in your eyes - and hear you saying:
'It doesn't matter any more - and it hasn't for a very long time.'
All that mattered was that we had each other.
Cannot tell you how much I miss having you with me.
Will love you, for ever