"However long our parents have been deceased, we still end up missing their daily presence in our lives.
It's not as though we were even in each other's pockets after I married and left home. Naturally, we visited them at least once weekly; more often on a Sunday after our children had been born and our weekend 'pop-in' to see granny and granddad was obligatory in our busy family schedule.
Often during weekly visits to see my parents, my dad (being a man of few words and extremely modest in nature), always let mum do all the talking while he politely listened. While mum nattered on, dad always ensured that both his young grandsons were kept supplied with a constant stock of buttered biscuits; an old, Irish, Catholic custom of which his English, Protestent daughter-in-law strongly disapproved, especially if the biscuits were Rich-Tea ones which dad would liberally butter and add a sugar coating to before giving to James and Adam.
Mum died at the early age of 64 years in 1986 and though dad tried to get on with his life, it was sad to see his strong and independent traits slowly leave him as he started to show signs of missing mum's daily presence in the house. One would never have dreamt that though they loved each other all their married life, they rowed daily during the latter part of it!
After mum died, I always tried to pop in daily; usually in the evening for ten minutes on my way home from work. Dad died in 1991, aged 75 years and he did say to me a few years prior that he wished they could have both gone together as it was no fun being the last one to go.
It was only after they had both died and left the scene that I truly missed them more than I could ever have imagined. Almost twenty five years after their deaths (which is incidently more time than I lived at home prior to getting married), I still find it virtually impossible to pass the flat where they spent their final years together without it bringing a lump to my throat.
Frequently, and no doubt because my experiences with each of them was always positive, I have prided myself on being able to emotionally 'let them go.' And yet, they remain constantly in my thoughts; much more so of later years as my advancement in age brings back memories of them far more often than say ten or twenty years ago. Perhaps this is a defence mechanism that I subsequently employed which enabled me to compensate their emotional loss with my mental recollection of them. Emotionally I have 'let go,' but by holding on firmly to their memory, perhaps I will never truly and completely 'let go' until I let go of life itself and be reunited with them and all my loved ones.
Little did I realise that my mother's first instructions to me when she and dad walked me out in the world at the age of three years, 'Billly, stay close to us now and never stray too far from God' would still be followed by their 71 year old son today. Don't worry mum and dad, I always will. After all, however big the child grows, the man is never more than a shadow of their past and a reflection of their mother and father." William Forde: May 26th, 2014.