I've been away at my father's house. I've been trying to sort out his things. It's been distressing and time consuming. I had to cut off, be dispassionate. If I built up the courage to throw something in the rubbish bin, I could almost hear his voice behind me scolding: "How could you? I've had that for 50 years!" But I'm getting better at it. It's good to sort things out, bring some order into the chaos that his house has been in for the last 10 years. He began to "lose the plot" when he started caring for my mother, who was showing the initial signs of Alzheimer's disease, about 10 years ago. I've discovered he's kept everything: old cheque book stubs, used envelopes, company reports, broken ornaments and figurines (which he'd no doubt intended to mend one day but never did), legal correspondence, cereal packets, worn-out clothes. The larder was full of 1950s kitchen equipment that hadn't been used for decades, a lot of it chipped, cracked and dirty: huge saucepans for jam making, heavy kitchen scales with the old imperial weights, enormous platters for the Sunday joint, burnt and blackened baking trays, cake tins and Yorkshire Pudding tins (for making real Yorkshire Puddings - the ones 6 inches wide we used to eat with gravy as a prelude to the main Sunday roast). Amongst his haphazardly organized books, letters, papers and bank statements I was delighted to come across my mother's old commonplace book which I hadn't seen for ages and thought was lost for ever. Over the next few days I'll continue with some observations about and quotations from this meticulously typed binder of nostalgic memories. In the meantime I leave you with this - which I find specially apt, as I myself quoted The Beatitudes recently:
Some Modern Beatitudes
Blessed are those who can doubt - for they shall know.
Blessed are those who can dream - for they shall see.
Blessed are those who can give - for they shall receive.
Blessed are those who know how to read between the lines - for they shall understand.
Blessed are those who know how to run risks - for they shall be secure.
Blessed are those who do not do what is reasonable, decent and convenient - for they shall be followers of Christ.
Blessed are those who know how to listen - for they shall be listened to.
Blessed are those who do not give way to fear - for nothing will happen to them.
Blessed are those who read foreign nespapers - for they shall know what is happening.
Blessed are those who know how to lose a little time - for they shall have all the time in the world.
Blessed are those who want to be useful - for they are.
Blessed are those who get to know the neighbours on their staircase - for they shall be called human beings.
Taken from my mother's commonplace book.