Today (3rd May) is one of those days. A marker in one’s life where I take time to pause and reflect on those people who have given me the foundations to build my life. As I write this, I do so with a gentle glow of pride that Janet (my sister) and I had two amazing parents who both passed away on this day 12 month apart. Today marks the first anniversary of a year without them physically in our lives. The tears have subsided, the photographs make me smile, the space they left remains, but their presence is strangely stronger. I see them in the day to day behaviours of individual family members (yes sister you have mums fire burning inside). I hear them in the causal talk of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I often see them in my mind’s eye when I ask myself, “what would they think?” or reflect on a memory.
As my parents entered the last phase of their lives and with their blessing, I took an assortment of photographs. I also had the fortune to talk about my parents on national radio via Lauren Laverne’s BBC 6Music’s regular slot Memory Tapes, which judging from the feedback I received reflected the thoughts of many people who heard it. My mum passed away shortly after I took this photograph, which captures their last kiss.
Today, I write these words and share this image after careful consideration and talking to my sister partly to help break-down any fear we may have in discussing death, to offer support to those who may be facing similar circumstances and reassure you that there is light after the darkness. But more importantly to celebrate the beautiful cycle of life. If you are fortunate to have parents like me and my sister, they teach you how to live, love and ultimately how to die with dignity. When all is said and done can a child ask for anything more from their parents? Love all the people all the time.
A giant man of rusting steel sits gazing out across the sea in permanent thought. Flat cap, large overcoat with his walking stick in one hand just peacefully reflecting on life. Freddie Gilroy was a former miner from County Durham who, as a soldier shortly before his 24th birthday, was one of the first allied troops to enter Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany in April 1945 where they found more than 60,000 prisoners, most of them seriously ill, and thousands of unburied corpses.
For more information on Freddie Gilroy and the Belsen Stragglers click here.
Last day of the month, attending and taking photographs at the launch of Bristol Hate Crime & Discrimination Services. As well as being for victims of any type of hate crime the service now brings in legal advocacy, restorative approaches, mediation and conflict resolution services for dealing with hate and discrimination. Further information on the service can be found here and more photographs from the event can be found by clicking on this link.
The event consisted of informative talks from civic leaders, charitable and statutory organisations, as well as performances from the Brandon Trust, which is a charity supporting adults and children with learning disabilities and autism. Bristol City’s Poet Laureate Miles Chambers, singer Anthony Thegeya and St. Paul’s Carnival CIC.