With Patricia away in America for this last week, I entertained myself by picking one or two corners of the house and ‘Marie-Kondo’ing the shit out of them. One such haven of joyless things was a basket that ostensibly held shoes but which had become a repository of newspapers and expensive supermarket bags.
Near the bottom of clearing it out, I came upon a blue coloured rewritable CD in one of those clear plastic jewel cases. Loath to throw it away, I left it on my desk, resolving to stick it in the laptop when I was next sitting there, just to see what was on it. I imagined it would turn out to be the soundtrack to one of the teen plays I did over the years. It would be fun to play through the needle drops I had set up so many years before. A little blast from the past.
Fast forward a week later and it’s today and I’m doing some stuff around the house again. These enthusiasms are rare so I have to try to capitalise on them when they land. Passing the desk, I saw the blue coloured CD sitting there and decided to slip it into the drive and see how it might entertain me.
It went in. The computer asked me what software I would like to use to play it. It had been a while since the machine had seen a disk like this and needed to be reminded of what to do with it. I chose Windows Media Player – better the devil you know – and let it do its thing as I went back into the kitchen to continue whatever the hell it was that I had been doing before.
A song wafted through from the other room. It wasn’t from one of my plays after all but it was from an event all right, an event that had happened eleven years and three months ago. The song is probably one you won’t know. It’s called ‘The Old Rustic Bridge by the Mill’ as sung by the late Irish Tenor Frank Patterson. It was one of Dad’s favourite tunes from years gone by and, after some discussion, it was the one we decided to play as we carried him out of the church back in March 2012.
I walked back into the study and stared at the computer. It gave nothing away, remained stoically po-faced, and just kept playing the tune. Two things occurred. The first, a fleeting thought, was just how long had that shoe basket needed sorting-out. The other thing was more complex and more all-consuming. An almost total transportation to that day. To the journey from the top of the church aisle to the bottom. The litany of sad familiar faces on either side. The feel of the cool varnished wood against my left cheek. The weight. The weight. The weight.
I delivered the eulogy that day and I think I did okay. I felt I had been given a strong mandate when, after Mum had died, years before, I told Dad that I didn’t feel like I should do the talking and he looked at me and said, “Well who the hell else will do it?” So I did it. And I felt it was okay that I did it for him too. That he would be okay with it.
The last thing I said, in the eulogy, was that the song that would play, as we carried him out, was one of his favourites. I gently exhorted those assembled, if ever they should hear this song, to think of my Dad.
I guess I must have included myself in that request.
Today, I kept my promise. I heard it, and I remembered.
I’ve put it away again now, with other CDs that don’t really get played all that much anymore. Maybe I’ll pull it out again, in another ten years’ time, and stare at it again and wonder again which play it might have been from. A sad little play, perhaps, a very sad one.
Maybe I’ll put it in a drive and play it again and remember all over again…