It always comes down to social relations; the cultural fabric which binds us together as human beings, as community. My family buried my much loved uncle last week. It was sudden, unexpected and tragic and as we all gathered in the west of Ireland to celebrate his life and mark his passing we found ourselves bound to one another through blood, story and history. The future became all the more richer for that.
In the days that we were there together; talking, eating, walking, drinking, our disparate lives, our individual exterior worlds fell away and we walked upon a common ground resplendent in memory, the collective memory of a man who touched us in so many different ways, as lover, father, brother, uncle, cousin, friend, colleague.
Those many hours spent telling tales, recalling stories, anecdotes were a clear reminder to me of the absolute and fundamental importance of our relationships with each other, of how we walk through our lives bound to one another, woven into a history not of our making but rather made up of different strands and unknown colours that together create a rich tapestry we are all a part of, a tapestry that is continually being woven as we develop, grow and eventually pass away.
It was an incredibly close, intense and pure experience for all of us. And as each story was fondly told, as another thread was pulled, we followed it and listened. Our tapestry had years of memories infused into it, much of it worn, scuffed like an old coat, whose value lies not in its material worth but in what it represents, what memories it holds for us; it’s smell of love, stupidity, happiness, despair and the vivid pictures it invokes in us that make us who we are, make us human. Makes life worthwhile.
The shared experience brought us closer, not in just some immediate way but in a profound way, a deep vein was found, was forged and we all, in our own way, came to the realisation that there was more that joined us together than kept us apart.
This was not only to be the end of an era but the beginning of a new one. One that all of those who have passed away before us will continue to be a part of, will continue to shape as we weave our stories into the future. They have left us a strong legacy. It is up to us to work on it.
We’ll always love you Peter
March 3rd, 1951 – August 15th, 2011: brilliant academic, wonderful father, interested uncle, soft cuddly human being and always good at magic tricks
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