It has been a little while since I have had the thinking space to draft a blog post; partly because my new job keeps me very busy most days, as does the job of parenting my son and carrying on the business of living life. But, after all the hustle and bustle of literary festivals and newspaper interviews, life ground to a shuddering halt this week after a very special person passed away.
My father-in-law was a fine, rare man, who from our first meeting was kind and open-hearted. He was a natural raconteur, brimming with charisma and intelligence, which shone like a beacon through a pair of bright blue eyes his son and grandson have inherited. He approached the world with zest and passion, advocating for the weak and vulnerable, lending his skills to good causes along the way. He lived a full and interesting life which took him across the world and garnered friends wherever he went. Although he suffered from Parkinson’s disease for over twenty years (amongst other ailments), he never allowed it to dim his humour and I cannot ever recall him complaining about what must have been a highly frustrating situation for a man possessed of his qualities. His stoicism is a lesson to us all, one I try to remember when life presents its little challenges.
I recall the first time I met him over ten years ago; how impressed I was with his warmth and inclusivity, which is a rarer commodity than one might think. Although I told him whilst he was alive, it occurs to me to thank him again for helping to shape his son in a similar vein. Every happy day we spend together I am reminded of how fortunate I am to have met such an honourable, highly principled man, who lives his life according to honesty and a fundamental optimism about the goodness of human nature. It is such a pity that our son might not remember his paternal grandfather, given the constraints of his young age, but in both words and deeds we will remind him of the very many admirable qualities he had.
The inevitable cycle of life and death cannot fail to bring home a sense of one’s own mortality, a quickening of the heart which gives pause for thought. I have said elsewhere, and probably indirectly through the characters I create in my books, that I am not a religious person. I do not believe in a higher power but, like my father-in-law, I believe in grabbing life by the balls. If this is all we have, then I must use every day to its fullest. I must look at the world afresh and enjoy all it has to offer. Although I refuse to have negative influences in my life, I must retain a tolerance for others and try to forgive, because as somebody once said: be kind to unkind people, they need it the most.
Thank you for the lovely memories, Harry, and for all the good advice. Sleep peacefully.