Whilst in the process of turning the small bedroom into a home office again, I came upon a large white box with a silver lid. made of cardboard and well worn at the edges. I don’t know what it originally held, perhaps some article of clothing, or maybe it was a huge box of chocolates. But when I looked inside, I found nearly forty years worth of mementoes of one sort or another, collected by Frances over the years. There are many to look at, but this is about just one of them.
The first thing I found in the box was the menu card from our wedding reception, in 1974, which she’d kept, the quaintly typed blue ink, on an old fashioned proper typewriter then Xeroxed, fading and slightly spreading.
Since he died many years ago, in 1977, it has always been one of my great regrets that I have nothing that is in his own handwriting. We called him The Auld Man, but he was just 54 years old when he died, following a debilitating stroke a few years earlier, and which robbed him of the power of one half of his body. He didn’t write much, being a practical man who lived with his hands and made things skillfully, and I think the most I ever saw him write was when he signed our school report cards. My memento of him, which my mother gave me and which I still have, it his shaving razor. I turned the menu over, to find on the back a message of good wishes to Frances and me on our wedding day, and I saw that it had been signed by a number of the guests and family members. Near the top of the left column, under the signatures of The Wifey (Doreen, my mother-in-law) and my mother, Rose, I saw my father’s name, his own handwriting. After all these years, my dad’s signature, and my mum’s, together.
The Ardmore is coming out tonight.