Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Forget Me Not

Ceramic Bottles by Ian Marshall

One early May morning, my brothers and I gathered at my father’s flat. We had just a few hours to decide what to keep and what to leave.

Belongings once private were now laid bare because of practicalities. We had to sort through papers and find important documents. It seemed strange that we could simply take an object off a shelf, open up a book, and all without asking the owner's permission. I felt like a trespasser, despite the fact that the person who used and loved these objects was no longer here. 

Objects now turned over in our hands, scrutinised. Objects in limbo and with an uncertain future. 

I took an odd array of objects that day. Some of practical use: a cheese grater, a metal spatula, a coffee maker, an omelette saucepan. When I use them I feel closer to my father as he was an avid cook and I know that he valued such practical things. On the other hand, the omelette pan has since given up the ghost of its non-stick surface after four years, and burnt and sticking eggs are hardly a fitting tribute to my dad. But still, I cannot bring myself to throw it away. 

Other, more precious, objects have also suffered. In transit to Germany, a nail had made its way into one of my father's paintings, puncturing the canvas. While mourning at its imperfection, I was forgetting that I had literally saved it when I chose it that day. 

Then a few weeks ago, I heard a crash in the bedroom and instinctively I knew what it was before I went to see the damage, as if the thud and crash had happened within me. The kids had been racing around the flat on bobby cars. A piece of sculpture that my dad had made was lying on the floor in two pieces. It had been on my dressing room table for want of a "home". Tall and thin, I had deemed my dressing place the safest place. I was wrong. 

I have to admit, though, that as much as I felt devastated, I felt some kind of release. As if I had been given some kind of permission to let go of this one.  I had taken all these objects with me to remember my dad by, but if I was honest, some of them were not really to my taste and others I had no idea where to put them in my home.

Luckily, I still have other objects of his that are intact and I hope to be a better caretaker of these, though I will never know what they meant to him exactly.

Still,  the memories of a home brewed cup of strong coffee, in those days quite exotic and grown up to me as a teenager, brought to me in a ceramic cup, and thai meals lovingly prepared by him bring me nearer to my father than any of these objects did.

And they, like other memories of him,  cannot be so easily broken.

Ceramic Bottle with signature stamp(underside) by Ian Marshall

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