The chair in front of the desk has two pieces of clothing on it. One is an orange jacket: plain; fairly big; in relatively good condition. The other is green and white; small(er); patterned with lines of x’s, and quite shabby.
The orange one belonged to our friend Mark. The other one was my Dad’s.
What do these two men have in common? I knew both of them for many years; 34 in the case of Mark, my whole life in Dad’s.
They’re also both dead.
Mark was a relatively young 68 (1), and left a wife, two kids, and numerous grandchildren. Dad was 95; a widower; and left three kids (we’re all in our 60s), two grandchildren, and a congregation which knew him for around 50 years.
Dad wasn’t a minister, but he held many positions in his local Presbyterian church over the years. He was a long retired chemical engineer who was with Fo Mo Co., as he called it, (2) for almost all his working life. He was also a member of that fast diminishing group, the veterans of WW2.
Mark had died before. He came back to life 20 minutes later, whilst he was 46, saying he wanted to be a Celtic shaman.
Dad has been dead for almost two and a half years. Mark died in March this year. His widow, and friends, still grieve.
I loved them both. I miss them both.
As I write this blog, I’m wearing Dad’s sweater. It’s quite old, and disreputable looking, but it’s warm. I’ll probably wear Mark’s jacket when I start running again, later this year.
I can finally wear Dad’s sweater without feeling just a little bit sad. As for Mark’s jacket, the one time I remember wearing it after his death (3), I felt a bit, well, odd.
“Time will tell, it usually does” – the 7th Doctor
(1) When you’re 61, age 68 doesn’t seem very old.
(2) He used to call himself “Test Tube Joe from Fo Mo Co” when he contributed things to the Bud Guest radio sow, in the 70s.
(3) He gave it to me whilst he was here on holiday, many years ago.