A bed is laid in a secret corner
For the three agonies – love, birth, death –
That are made beautiful with ceremony.
— from The Finished House, George Mackay Brown
My dad would have been 89 today. I don’t know that I miss him any less or any more than any other day since his death in September. But there’s an increased focus on this first absent birthday, I think, which makes me recall all the more acutely the decades when he—and my mum—were everything in my world.
This photograph of him and me is probably from mid to late 1975 or perhaps early 1976. I’m the one on the right. Look at his hair-and-cardigan combo; look at my red shoes; look at those vertiginous stairs. I’ve no idea what colour his shoes were, because as is customary my mum has cut his feet off in the photograph.
This was taken in our first house where we lived until I was 13, and which I loved. It had been my dad’s parents’ house. It had curious angles and sometimes even more curious angels in its architecture of happiness and security. Love is everywhere in this photograph, in every fibre of the stair carpet, in our smiles, in the way my dad’s hand holds me close.
And even though I don’t miss him any less or any more than any other day, I still miss him in a way that’s impossible for me to express, and which I don’t even want to put into words. It’s love which causes the most pain, but that pain, which diminishes, is worth enduring, as the by-product of that love, which will never diminish.