Life, Death, and Grief (We’ll miss you, mate)

archieon lakecaribou007

During these past few days following the passing of Janet’s father, I have been pondering on the cycle of life, death, and grief…

Surrounded by his loving family, Archie peacefully slipped away from us last week, while Clare, his partner of almost 60 years, held his hand, tenderly…

There was a feeling of deep sorrow and sadness as Arch let go of his final breath, tears were quietly shed as we sat silently in the dimmed light.

But there was also much to be thankful for.

Marys Birthday_0046

Archie was in his 99th year and he never experienced any major health problems during his lifetime. His love of life alone would have been enough to see him through many more years, but his aging body had simply become too frail to stave off what would normally be a minor illness for most…

We were lucky to have been able share his charm, wit, wisdom…his warmth, for so long.

In the predawn darkness following his passing my thoughts drifted to memories of times I had shared with Arch.

The early childhood stories that Janet and her brothers and sisters have shared many times. Of the travel to wonderfully exotic places that Clare has spoke excitedly of at every opportunity, and with whom she had shared with the love of her life, Archie, Archie Fawthrop…

A smile eased the tension in my face.

rajasparty004

I thought about Archie’s life that began with his birth in Burma, of growing up in India, and boarding school in England, of his time as a Captain in the British Army during the war years. Of a sea voyage he took with his young daughter, Mary, to the country that claimed him as one of its own, Australia, and of the family that Clare and Archie so beautifully raised at Garden Grove

DSC_0074

Archie welcomed me into his family with open arms and over the years I have valued his advice, his friendship, the stories he has told me…the laughs we have shared together.

The mere mention of his name will surely bring a grin to your face, and we’ve all got an Archie story, for there are many. And as the years pass they will be recounted like it was only yesterday that we were all together sharing the moment.

But on life, death, and grief…

Yes, we will all pass one day, but for me grief suggests I have lost something;  that something has been taken away from me.

But quite to the contrary.

Archie has given me much to be thankful for, beautiful memories, his wonderful daughter, Janet, with whom I am lucky enough to share my life, and our son TomO, who has more than just a shade of Archie in him, an overabundance of that wonderful “boyish-Archie-cheekiness”.

Currawinya National Park, Outback Australia

And as first light was beginning to pierce the eastern horizon and the warmth from those first rays of light filled my body, I swear I heard him whisper his most famous line, the one that always brings an infectious smile to your face, the line that sums him up perfectly.

“You don’t know how lucky you are”…

Take care Arch, we’ll miss you, mate…