Taking bearings

In the days before sat nav I was driving – for me, always a stressful and unwelcome task. I was headed for a craft fair as a trader and I had a good map. Sadly, one cannot drive and map read, and dyslexics have little short term memory. I left a roundabout at the right junction, and scudded along. I found myself trapped on a dual carriageway. I got off it, I consulted the map, and plunged on, eventually becoming enmeshed in endless B roads, not recognising a single offered destination, and eventually finding none offered. Time ticked on. I was looking for the sea on my right hand. Suddenly, stunningly, the sea slammed up on my left. I drew to a considered halt. I drew a considered breath. Had I inadvertently driven all the way across Scotland?

My father died when I was twenty two. In the years before we had not had a very good or close relationship. He had not appreciated his child turning into a woman. We had both struggled with this, and with aspects of each other’s personalities. He died suddenly, before we could readjust to the reality of adult child and parent. I have kept a more than somewhat negative image of him.

The other day I suddenly rounded a corner, and, like the sea, he slammed up on my other hand. The man I met so unexpectedly was compassionate, ahead of his time, thoughtful, caring deeply about the equality of all peoples. He tried hard to keep his wife from plunging too far up or down at successes and reversals. He tried hard to live so that his gifts were fulfilled.

His down sides remain, of course they do. But I am glad I rounded that corner and saw him on my left side. And the sea? Well, I had driven in a big circle and was now heading to my destination from the south.

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