On the remains of love
I found this amongst my mother’s possessions. A greeting card sent with flowers from my dad to my mum on the occasion of my birth.
I don’t know much about my father, Frank Jordan, who disappeared from my life early on, and although I was close to my mum, Polly (he called her ‘Paula’), she was always enigmatic and eccentric to me. Her vocation as a social worker and child protection officer led me to know things I probably shouldn’t have known at the age I did. Not that she was inappropriate in her language, but her views on child safety were determined, outspoken and streetwise. She didn’t take any prisoners in her defence of children and their right to dignity, compassion and protection. I admire her hugely, then and now, for that. If she was flawed, as we all are, it came through vicarious trauma and the alcohol she used to medicate whatever pain she was in.
What will survive of us is love
As for my dad, I don’t know much, except to say he was some kind of suave and intelligent charmer, a self-proclaimed writer who never wrote a word, but also a person of kindness and intellectual substance. Aside from the two, unrememberd, years after my birth, I only met him once, when I was 10. He was, as forewarned, charming, approachable, kind and shallow.
Both my parents are dead now and I have enough of my mum’s possessions — plus my upbringing — to remember her by and be thankful for. Of my father, I have nothing, except the card pictured above. Written in his hand, they speak with direct simplicity of the things we all need, that are our birthright: connection, relationship, love. For me though, I suppose the meaning of it is in the ink itself, and the stroke of the hand that placed it.
Thinking of all this, I’m reminded again of my favourite poet Philip Larkin, whose poem ‘An Arundel Tomb’, comprises an epitaph of the tomb of a long deceased couple, delivering a truth we would all do well to recall. That despite the poor efforts of memory, the exigencies of trauma and the pain of loss, ‘What will survive of us is love.’