Sunday, 10 April 2011

A Perfect Day

Santarem, Portugal                 May 2009

To feel today what one felt yesterday isn't to feel - it's to remember today what was felt yesterday, to be today's living corpse of what yesterday was lived and lost.  –  Fernando Pessoa

I remember how I felt on the day that I took this photograph. We had interred my father’s ashes in the family tomb that morning during a memorial service attended by family and friends in my family’s village in Portugal. It was hot even though it was only May, and my mother, who had travelled to Portugal with me and my children, suggested the four of us go to Santarem for lunch. I was feeling raw. I had experienced emotions that morning that I thought I had dealt with in the months since my father’s death. We had lunch in a local restaurant, toasting Dad’s life with wine from the Ribatejo, the region where he was born, and then showed Ben and Safia where their grandfather went to boarding school. The town was quiet and felt almost as though the people were mourning with me. Early memories of when my parents had brought me to this town, and this square, came flooding back and I was a little girl again, running around on a winter’s afternoon in the brilliant sunshine not thinking beyond tomorrow. Now my children were running around in the sunshine without a care in the world, and I wondered if they would remember this day in thirty or forty years time and how it made them feel. I had lost my father but he was living on through me and his grandchildren, and that feeling will live with me every day for the rest of my life.

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