“April is the cruellest month” wrote the poet T S Eliot in the opening lines of The Waste Land. Forgive the poetic exaggeration, but I do find April an emotional month, filled as it is with so many significant family anniversaries and the memories that accompany them.
The first in my grandfather’s birthday on the 3rd. Born in 1889, he died at the end of my first term at university in 1965, having been an ever-present influence in my childhood and youth. My memories are still vivid and full of gratitude for having known him.
Almost a fortnight elapses before the next dates arrive, starting with the birthday on the 15th of the uncle I never knew. My mother’s baby brother Jack died within a few weeks of his birth in 1921 and she grew up an only child.
Thankfully the next birthday is a happy one – that of our eldest grandson, who turned 16 on the 17th and is bidding fair to be as tall as his 6’4” father! It’s hard to believe this mischievous toddler now has his head down over his books, revising hard for his GCSEs.
|Grandson #1 trying to walk on water|
The very next day we celebrated the birthday of my niece and goddaughter, now in her thirties and waiting happily for the birth of her first child in the summer. It’s wonderful to see the wheel of life continuing to turn like this and to know I will soon be a great-aunt again. Where are those knitting needles?
|Two sets of cousins - the birthday girl below|
The next date is one that will always be etched in my heart. On the 20th my dear father died, only minutes before midnight and the beginning of my mother’s birthday on the 21st. They had been married for almost 37 years, had brought up five daughters and had given them the very best start in life any child could wish for. I can never be grateful enough for the sacrifices they made to support us through school and university on working-class wages, an education neither of them had been fortunate enough to enjoy.
After that came my birthday on the 24th (the last of my 60s – help!) closely followed by a twin celebration on the 29th. For DH and myself there was the milestone of 47 years of married life, while at the same time we marked the day when Grandson#2 reached the status of teenager. Where have those thirteen years gone? Blink and you’ve missed them.
|Grandson#2 finding it a rather slippery place to be|
There are plenty of other significant family dates scattered through the year, but in no other month is there such a concentration. If not a cruel month, April is certainly a poignant one for me - a rainbow mixture of happiness and hope for the future, mingled with an enduring sense of loss.
PS Don't tell DH, but I forgot to include another significant April date - the anniversary of our first meeting on the day before my 21st birthday. That truly was my lucky day.