Saturday, November 11, 2006

more than an owl

Today is a good day. It's cold and vaguely rainy and grey, but it feels peaceful and clean. A day to stay indoors and do housey stuff, bundled in flannel pyjamas and a sweatshirt. The kind of day that my father is prompted to gaze out the window and say: "Oh England, my England." He came here as a young man in 1967, and there's a type of day - like today - with this particular wettish, damp, cool quality that reminds him of his homeland. He's a bona fide tortured artist, and is imbued with the dual qualities of romanticism and anger. He was a stern parent, but also capable of being very silly.

Remember a while back I found an owl pellet on my balcony? It gets better. This morning I had tea and a clove on the balcony, revelling in the wind and the pewtery autumnal light, watching the pigeons and a couple of gulls riding the wind - but wait...those birds are...reddish-brown, not gull-grey, and they're biggerandtheirwingshavehugepinfeathersandcurveupatthetipslikefighterplanes...and now they're curving closer and right past my balcony about 15 feet away and they have hooked, predatory beaks like military commanders' noses and they're huge! Falcons. A pair of falcons. Today is a good day.

I'm also thinking of my grandfathers today.

Albert Augustine Patrick McKenna (Bertie), born in 1888, ran away at the age of 14 to join the army and lied about his age, served in the cavalry in India, was a merchant seaman, and served his country at sea in both WWI and WWII.

Francis Edward Carey Peaker (Ned), served his country at sea in WWII, and on November 1st, 1941, received a telegram on the ship informing him that my mother had been born. Pulled the gun carriage carrying the casket at King George's funeral. Owned the village shop and post office in Huddersfield, W. Yorks. "We're out of bread; you'll have to have toast."

I never had the chance to meet either of them. They both survived the wars, but died before I was born. Thanks to both of them and to all the men who served and made it possible for dad to reminisce and for me to see falcons on Remembrance Day.

1 comment:

Sandi Purl said...

i love that silly pick of dad! and it's hilarious how your gramps had such long long names but went by Bertie and Ned. Priceless!