There’s a church on the sea front. It must, literally, be a landmark for the fishermen and for the china clay ships approaching the harbour – which nestles beneath a red cliff where the estuary reaches the open sea. It’s a busy little port and there’s a pub close to the ferry crossing, where, in the garden, gaudy flowers sprout from the discarded sea boots of sailors. Today – it’s May time, 1978 – I’m on the beach with my children waiting for my father to pick us up for lunch.
His red Opel car drives up. I catch sight through the windscreen of his sleekly-parted and combed hair – my mother had been a hairdresser and, except for his wartime years as a soldier, he had never visited a barber as an adult.
‘There’s grandad.’ And we all climb in.
I look back to that time as I enjoy a very recent memory, the joyful, singing and dancing Nativity play at our granddaughter’s prep school. I mentioned that performance in my last post. I have learned that, while fully in role as a terpsichorean camel, our grandchild spotted me from the stage, as I stood at the back. The six-year-old was far too professional to wave – or anything like that. But she told her mother afterwards that she had seen me.
I have a living memory of my father on that seafront in 1978, beneath the church. The next time I saw him was in the June. He was in hospital after a stroke. After a couple of weeks he died there.
Holidays in childhood. Hopes and dreams, those of the children, their parents and their grandparents (not least). Now that I have lived six years longer than my father did, I catch a glimpse of him as a human being, separate from me. Perhaps, to the end, he was discovering things about himself, as I am about myself, and as are Mrs Llew and our now middle-aged children. I pray for them and for their children.
This blog was not consciously created with evangelistic intent. As I look back, indeed as my mother and father looked back on life, there has (had) to be the recognition and acceptance of failure, of things not completed. Of real sadness.
Which is where the church on the sea shore comes in and where, in the Sacraments it celebrates, close to, and from within the sea of eternity, all shall be made whole, all well, all healed.