January 17th, 2014

Opera

a family passing

My father-in-law died last weekend, and I didn't post anything here because I wasn't quite sure what to say. Stuart's understandably been very upset and it's hard watching someone you love grieving and not be able to help. But important, too; it means a lot to share these things.



It wasn't easy getting stories out of Stuart's dad, but I was always trying to get him to tell me about living in London as a teenager during the Blitz, on Camberwell New Road. A lot of his neighbours spent the nights in the nearby Tube station, but his family opted to risk the bombs rather than allow such a big disruption to their regular lives. He also worked in Egypt as a meteorologist for a little while as a young man, but all the descriptions I could get from him involved gins and tonic and cricket. In his later years, he spent much of his life in Thailand. He loved the beach, and we managed to visit him there a couple times.

He liked everything to be just-so, but I admired him for having the courage to venture outside his homeland as an old man, even though he was set on things being terribly English. Such as his food, he managed to find places in Thailand that did good roast dinners. But he could make a great roast dinner himself; one of my most frequent memories of him is a scene in his kitchen back in Bexhill-on-sea, bustling around the oven, taking out the joint, roasting the potatoes, while Stuart stood next to him and stirred the gravy. They always did this, exactly the same way, every visit.

Stuart and his brother have been organising the funeral and I haven't been able to do much other than give hugs. On the first day, we went for a very long walk in Greenwich Park, then sat in a cafe and took turns writing in a small notebook, things we remembered about him. It was nice, because it gave us some time to think while the other person was writing, and Stuart's a quiet guy, so it was good to read his thoughts. And then we rambled home, and did normal things, like stopping to buy milk at the supermarket. Life goes on, but we'll never forget him.

Rest in peace, Father-in-law.