Sitting in a cafe recently with a coffee and my newspaper I glanced around myself to check the lie of the land before I began reading.  My eye was caught by some old boy also sitting on his own. His clothes seemed as old as he did: clean and brushed but worn and giving him  an air of someone  not unduly fussed by the opinions of others.  Sensing my gaze he looked up at me. I raised my eyebrows in a silent hello and he smiled. Nothing was said.  The look was timeless  but it made me think

Sometimes in the way I check for my keys or reach to smell the fragrance of some flower I find my mother coming alive in the actions of her son so many years after she died: all of us have or will have this experience.  At the same time we are ourselves,  and the very people we mourn.  Their spirit and mannerisms live on in us. Their genes, their lessons, those odd habits which puzzled us when we were young suddenly re surface as we get older and force us to smile. We can’t believe we are turning into our parents.

Of course they knew this all along,  when our young selves criticised them.   They smiled, remembering how they felt the same outrage in their youth. It’s strangely comforting to know that so a loved figure is still with us in the way we hold a tea-cup or look out of the window as we try to remember some detail. My father died when I was quite young.  When I started work someone asked me if I was any relation to him. I had never spoken or interacted with this person, but just in the way I walked and in my look I rang a bell in her mind: she had been his secretary  many years before and here, out of the blue,  he seemed to walk again.

Who knows what distant ancestor’s behaviour we mirror while thinking our behaviour all our own. In those photographs and films we see of older generations dealing with bygone problems and difficulties  we experience ourselves. Look in the eyes of that  fellow moving there. in that old black and white cine film as it unfolds before our eyes,. Leaving the factory gate, released for the evening, joking with his friends or searching the horizon . Living the moment unaware of the future which is us now looking back at him. The timeless struggle in which we are all joined evokes our common humanity and reminds us that we are all, in some ways , one family.

Could we all meet, in some distant resting place. Now all the same age, say 65, and say to each other, generation to generation, without the defence of age or parenthood, so how did you spend your time. Perhaps we would be more understanding of our parents, and our ancestors, acknowledging  their lives, and accepting  the very frailties which now mark our own existence.  When we rail against the conduct of our children or our parents I think of this. sometimes.  Is it possible that forgiveness is the better part of understanding. With this in mind, as I left the cafe I went up to the old man sitting at his table. “It’s not all bad is it ” I said. “No it isn’t” he replied and we both smiled

About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
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11 Responses to Sometimes

  1. vixter2010 says:

    Aw cute, I’d love to know all about my ancestors!


  2. Julia says:

    Very poignant and well told story, and very good lunch time reading to make me think and smile


  3. Jeanna says:

    as always, I am so glad I found your blog!


  4. Caroline says:

    I love the way you make me think about life. Thank you


  5. sportsattitudes says:

    Excellent read. Glad to have found it. Just turned 53 and very relevant to my own experiences.


  6. Tipsy Lucy says:

    Talk about beautifully written! The images you stir. I love this.
    Remarkable your father’s secretary could see him in you. 🙂


  7. From perusing your blog, I think we might make good blogging buddies. Check out my site and let me know what you think! Love your thoughts. . .

    My site is quite eclectic, so it would be a good idea to check out more than one or two posts to get the flavor of my writing.

    I look forward to hearing from you.


  8. eof737 says:

    Beautiful. I’d love to meet my ancestors in a time machine so I could catch up on our family history… that would be amazing.


  9. Beautiful Post! I think from walking in anothers shoes as we age makes us cherish our experinces and our parents before us…


  10. Dawne Webber says:

    I’m blessed to have both my parents still, but my youngest brother died six years ago. My sons were seven and five when he died, but so often I see him in their actions, the way they phrase something or their laugh. It’s just another reminder, that as you said, “…we are the people we mourn.”


  11. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I have truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again very soon!


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