Sunday, August 21, 2011

Son and Father, Graemsey Island, Orkney

I saw my fathers legs last night as he tottered slowly across the hall in his bizarre nighshirt.

Death cancer thin, ghost white, fragile and pocked with a swarm of pale scars. 
My father had been a very big man, a giant. In his youth he had played professional Rugby League for Salford. (Lancashire) Three English pounds for a win, one pound for a draw and nothing for a loss.

In novels I remember reading about hero's growing old and becoming tragic frail shadows but when your young it s not the part of the story that interests and now this is not a story in a book.

When I was sixteen I was captain of the team and thought myself fast and tough and thought him already an old man. That summer on a beach (maybe the last holiday when we were all really together) we ran a race across the gleaming sand, sort of a joke. I remember being shocked, then utterly mortified as he sailed past me at the very end. And for all the many years after, every time we would meet he would laugh and challenge me to another race.
But not this time.