'What I do is me: for that I came.' G M Hopkins

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Place

The fledglings who have been lodging with us off and on for the past year have flown and we have an empty nest again.

I vividly recall sitting down with the man before we went to live in darkest Africa so many years ago and contemplating the fact that if we embarked on this great adventure we may well lose our children (then aged 7-13) to the wonders of travel and international living.  One daughter returned to live in Africa for several years, before and after marriage, and now, following a year in Ghana, Maria and Willem have made a more permanent move to Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. We bid them adieu and bon voyage with heavy hearts. 
An international marriage will mean for them, us and his family a lifetime of teary goodbyes. However, I am totally convinced that it will also enrich all our lives.  They arrived safely this week and already we have had a tour of the house where they’re going to live and met the puppy they’ve bought. We are sharing the adventure with them via the wonders of Skype and we are all richer for it.
But still the house is eerily quiet and yesterday I held my daughter’s shirt to my face to breathe in her smell and her nearness.  They are gone and we are sad.
This week we went for a final visit to our favourite place, Mount Stewart. 

For Maria
As we pulled on our boots and prepared to leave
The heavens opened
Rain drops splashed and jumped
On the patio
Solace for my pain

We went anyway
Driving alongside the troubled sea
The wind tugged at my eyes in the car park
But deep in the wilds of the woods

Sun steamed the wet as we walked
And reminisced
And hugged the white stag of our
Narnia and the promise of
Adventures new

You picked an acer leaf
Red and smooth
To put in a book
To mark the place, you said