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Mud. And Dad. Bereavement and Ritual. But Mostly Mud.

March 14, 2016


The weekend was something of a family get together that involved getting to a particular place – and the place that we were getting to had to do with my Dad, who died in 2011.

My Dad is not “there” more than he is anywhere else in the universe.  Although he was very attached to this place, I wouldn’t say that his spirit haunts the place.  Not especially.

The place is special because it was special to his mother, which makes it a places special not just to siblings but to cousins as well.

I won’t say where the place is, except to say that it’s moderately difficult to get to.  All of us trying to get to it had to readjust plans somewhat to get to the place and the weekend was as much about getting there as being there.  Indeed, it’s not really a place you can “be” for very long at a time.

And it was muddy.  At various points we were looking to hop and jump our way to our destination or else hold on to tiny branches in order to effect the perimeter of an especially large puddle.  In order to do justice to this sense of place we had to balance on a broken plank while being filmed – just in case any of us fell headfirst in the mud providing a nice little Facebook entry.  Barbed wire was also involved.

We sat and drank and joked before setting out on the final muddy leg of our journey.  And we all agreed that were we to give up and go home and announce to whatever of Dadness that might be floating around that we’d nearly made it to his special spot on earth, but unfortunately there was a pub in the way – then Dad himself would actually approve and nod.   But we didn’t give up.  We left the pub.  We did the muddy thing.


Doing justice to our collective sense of Dad (and Dad’s Ma), meant that things had to be vaguely inappropriate.  There was a kind of bad taste quality that we all sought.  As we passed a small group of people seemingly returning from the spot we were heading for, one of us remarked “that must be Dad’s other family”.


Later on we made it to our hotel – which turned out to be the venue of a very large and very posh wedding reception.  Reception took one look at our scruffy mud-caked party and dispatched us to one of the out buildings.   But we still processed into the Hotel bar and stayed there all evening amid all the bling, relishing our own inappropriateness.  Because Dad was a very inappropriate man, a man who had no concept of any idea that there are certain things you shouldn’t say or do (or wear) on particular occasions.  The conversation veered erratically from the humdrum to the absurd to the passionately serious.  In honour of Dad, none of acknowledge any specialist expertise belonging to any one of us.  Fingers would wag.  We would exhale in frustration.  And then we would giggle hysterically.


We must do this again, because it is awkward and inconvenient and involves some difficulty.  The ungainliness of the spectacle of this kind of pilgrimage is perversely lovely.  We must do this again because it reminds us all of where we came from.  And where we’re headed.


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