Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Surprise!

So, here I am... an orphan now. It's an odd business...I'd got quite used to only having one parent (that's been the case since 1973 after all) but now the two of them are gone. Here's a rather blurred picture of my Mum and Dad together, taken in 1965 (two years before I was born). I think they are holiday snaps but goodness knows where they were - it looks like a quarry in the background or something.



I don't have many pictures of both of my parents together – there are their wedding shots from 1962 (the second wedding for both of them of course) but my Mum was 38 when they married and someone had dressed her to look much older so they're not my favourite images of her. She was never hip in my lifetime (she never once had a pair of what she would have called 'denim jeans') but she wasn't overly frumpy either and the least I can do (for a woman who didn't really like parading herself publicly) is only show her best sides to the worldwide web.

One very unexpected thing that I found when clearing Mum's desk were letters she'd received from my Dad (written in 1961-2, before they married). I'd never heard about these letters (and we talked quite a lot, Mum and I) and not having known my Dad at all well it was quite exciting to read these letters and, in a sense, hear his voice. I've read some of his poetry before but it's quite stilted stuff (a bit affected, even, for my taste) and you don't get much of a sense of the man from it. The letters however are quite different – funny, personal, anecdotal (he was a GP – lots of great subject matter). I'm not sure I'd call them love letters really...but there are terms of endearment, some affection and a hope for love, I think. The line from the letters that amused me the most was this one:

"I am not a real intellectual – don't be misled by a certain facility for the use of words."

Hmmm. Interesting...

x

32 comments:

deemikay said...

"I am not a real intellectual – don't be misled by a certain facility for the use of words."

Can I steal that? I've been trying to convince folk of that for years... :p

This was good to read! And it was a nice surprise from you. :)

Rachel Fox said...

You were quick to visit! I've amended the post a few times over the past few minutes so best check you've read the final version...

x

deemikay said...

I've just read it again and it seems like the one I read first time. :)

(Google Reader pops up with new posts - hence my quickness.)

I've missed you. Hope things are ok with you and family.

Rachel Fox said...

The changes were small things really. But when you're writing about the family you have to be careful!

As for us left here - we're OK. Just getting used to the new family size and make-up really. And we miss her!

The intellectual thing is funny for so many reasons. For a start Mum really wanted me to be an intellectual...and I kind of am but I'm also not, not, not! And I think I take after both my parents on that score. I think JUST being an intellectual is a horrible restrictive thing and whilst I know some people can't help but be like that it's really not for me (and I have tried!).

x

deemikay said...

I'm with you... hintellecshuals are strange things and I don't like being mistaken for one.

Oddly enough, proper intellectuals never accuse me of it. :)

Rachel Fox said...

That proper word can be tricky...proper poets? Proper poetry? Proper art? Proper writers?
But I know what you mean.
x

deemikay said...

The only proper-ty that anyone should aim for is proper person-ness. Everything else isn't even window dressing...

Rachel Fox said...

Oh, I think my Mum would have liked that one!

x

BarbaraS said...

That is a good line, but has me thinking about you too. Something ran in the blood, eh? Enjoyed this post, I like looking at old family photos and trying to figure out the story. :)

Rachel Fox said...

I enjoyed your family post recently too, B.
x

Susan at Stony River said...

I love that line of your father's -- and the photo!

Being orphaned is a weird feeling, sort of lost or adrift or... just something not right in the world that can't be fixed.

Thank heavens for photos and letters. Now I'm wondering about the ones I'll be leaving behind LOL

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, death certainly makes you think about...death. And I think about it quite a lot as it is.

Hope you're enjoying your new home, Susan.

x

Poetikat said...

It's odd to come across things left behind. Every so often I find inscriptions that my dad wrote in books that make laugh and cry.
I liked this post, Rachel.

Eryl Shields said...

That's a brilliant line, so honest and thus incredibly endearing. You come from good stock. I love your dad's coat and hair!

Marion said...

How wonderful/strange to come across old letters. So many ways to read that line...

Karen said...

Rachel - Your post makes me regret having burned all my love letters to and from my husband, mostly so my kids wouldn't discover them. Now I'm thinking maybe I should have kept them just so the kids could discover that we really were young once and giddy in love like they could never imagine.

I love your dad's line about words. Words, words, words.

Niamh B said...

Wow, what a lovely discovery, and what a handsome pair they made!
It's amazing the effects of written words though, all those years later, I bet he'd never have guessed how important they would be, not only to yourself but as inspiration now to your readers in all their far flung places.
X

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks all.

Karen - maybe you should write some new love letters! It'd be fun to try...

x

Andy said...

I love this picture & post Rachel. The quote is great & says something wonderful about their relationship... I think I recognize the Margaret he is addressing! Axx

Rachel Fox said...

Absolutely! She was always looking for intellectuals... or at least thinking she was...

x

martine said...

I have a whole boxful of letters in the loft (we had a long distance thing for 18 months) and am looking forward to reading them all again in my old age:-)
lovely post
thanks for sharing
martine

The Weaver of Grass said...

What a wonderful thing to find Rachel - those letters must have been precious to your Mother. Thinking of you.

Rachel Fox said...

Were they precious to her? Maybe...but possibly not in any way you might expect.

The complications of family!

x

Titus said...

First photograph of your mother in which I can see you so clearly.
Interesting, prophetic(?) choice of quote. And what a fascinating thing to say about yourself. Layers upon layers...

Rachel Fox said...

It's funny - everyone used to say how I looked like my Dad...now lots of people say I look like my Mum (well, when she was younger anyway). I take both as compliments.

And there are lots of other good lines in the letters. At least one about thinking too much too...

x

Ken Armstrong said...

Letters are amazing things really. To us who treasure words they can be more-intimate-by-far than a photo.

I have one letter I keep, it's only about mundane everyday things but the person who wrote it is still very much in there. x

Rachel Fox said...

Mundane everyday things...the older we get, the more we appreciate them! Just to have them is a luxury.
x

Dominic Rivron said...

"I am not a real intellectual – don't be misled by a certain facility for the use of words."

I can just imagine the man in the photo saying that.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, I have to imagine the actual sound of his voice though. I did hear it of course...but a long time ago and not so very much even then. I did find the village church magazine for the month he died in amongst Mum's things though - it had excerpts from the vicar's address which were lovely to read (being the village doctor much fuss was made). Particularly good to hear that despite his death being a suicide his life was still celebrated in many ways.

x

McGuire said...

(a bit affected, even, for my taste)

Someone said this to me 'You're so affected, Colin.'

I asn't entirely sure what they meant, is it an insult? It is meant to say, your so self-invovled with the world and its machinations, to the point of being ridiculous?

Interesting to find those letters. They hold some real insight.

Hope all is well. I'm in italy again for a few months. I'll be reading you.

Rachel Fox said...

I'm not talking about people being affected but about writing (and specifically poems) being that way. I write fairly directly and instinctively and that tends to be the kind of poetry I like too (to a point...not always obviously). Unless it's done for humour I don't often like poetry which shrieks 'HELLO! I AM SO POETIC, CAN'T YOU JUST FEEL HOW POETIC I AM'. I tend to think that's a phase a writer needs to grow out of. But I could be way-off of course. It's taste that's all.

x

McGuire said...

Well, in that light, I don't think my manner is 'affected', I might be biased. It's an intersting point though...this 'being affected' stuff.

Anyway, interesting to read about you discovering more about your Dad, after your Mum's passing.

Take care.x