Tag Archives: grandparents

Times Forgotten (2)

A heavy silence lingers over the house. As always, I feel strangely disconnected on this day. Good Friday. I have to state immediately that my Christianity is of the lapsed variety, but it is in my DNA, my vivid memories, my history. Oh, I know all the epistemological arguments….it all comes down to faith and feelings in the end. Sometimes fear, too.
From the age of nearly 3 to around 14 years I always spent Easter with my grandparents. It was my yearly holiday…..my chance to be spoiled, appreciated, taken out for treats. I was always bought new sandals (Start-rite or Clarks). The first of the year. I always wore short white socks for the first time in the year on Easter Sunday.
On Good Friday I was always told we had to sit quietly, read, be calm, don’t disturb the grown-ups. There was always fish pie for dinner (at lunch time) and always church.
The church, Emmanuel, was a red-brick Victorian edifice. It has since burned down. It was a short, quiet, respectful walk from my grandparent’s house. Once there I was transfixed by the huge swells of the organ music, mournful and minor-key. The hymns gave me a taste for words and their power. ‘My richest gains I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride’, ‘Can death thy bloom deflower?’, ‘Did e’er such love and sorrow meet….’ All sung in the saddest of respectful metre, all in the minor key. Even at the age of around five, I was aware of the mysticism, the strength of the sounds of these unknown words. The day was pervaded with a heavy, funereal tone. The shops were closed. My grandfather took me for quiet walk to the key side, calling in on my great-grandmother on the way back. All very fitting and respectful. As far as I’m aware, my grandparent’s faith was not a very central part of their lives. It was how most families lived then.
To this day, the ghosts of my grandparents shape my use of time on Good Friday. I sit quietly, I do not go to the shops, I listed to J S Bach’s powerful St Matthew Passion, Mozart’s majestic Requiem. I feel restless, disconnected.
I am still wondering about what faith means to me. I am still not convinced by the stories, I believe in honesty, in treating my fellow man and woman as I would wish to be treated, the central tenets of so many religions.
The sounds of the old Anglican hymns re-echo still inside the fibres of my being.
‘Love so making, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.’
Where is that love from?