At my Grandparents’ grave in the cemetery of Blanc Seau, Tourcoing, France, November, 2006
Why those tears, those bitter tears, those sobs that poured out as I stood at my grandparents grave. Was it for the separation of death, that long break 60 years ago? Why those tears, those bitter tears, emerging from some unknown wound? What loss, as I stood there, overcome, at the tomb of my grandparents? The memory of loss, their loss, my father’s tears at their loss, the passing of time, their life and my mine as finally I try to acknowledge the failures.
Or the stress of the recent conference in Brussels as I realised my insignificance, as I begin to realise my body is weakening and becoming stiff with age, my slow steps to the grave.
The bitter tears, the tears springing of their own accord, starting to well up when the florist remembered my mother – “une grande dame, mince” – and my father – “plus petit” –who knew the tomb, “allée J en montant” she remembered, “tombe en permanence”.
The cries then, and the groans as the grey skies too shed their tears. And I bent down and straightened the cross that had been broken. And I placed the roses, six of them, red and pink, on the dark grey slab of stone. A fine tomb carved by Amedée Hiroux; he and his wife were friends of my grandparents.
And I knelt down and made the promise on their grave to do a work worthy of them, to bring to a successful conclusion the gifts given to me.
Then I left never to return, either me or probably any other of their offspring.