Fly away, Peter…

…Fly away, Paul.

Does anyone else remember that nursery rhyme? Today, for me, it has two meanings, one happy, one sad.

Fly away, Peter: Today is my father’s funeral. His name was Peter. My mother’s ancestors might have said Alav hashalom, zichrono l’bracha (Peace be upon him, may his memory be a blessing). My father’s ancestors might have said Go forth, Christian soul, on your journey from this life. Whichever words we use, he is gone ahead, into that great mystery from which none return, and he is free. There is still a Pa-shaped hole in my reality, but other things will crowd in over time and distract me from the size and shape of it. And I feel strongly that this rite of passage will reconnect me with everything; I’ve felt unmoored and uncertain and unsettled these past weeks. The support of my family and friends has made an enormous difference. This, for example, really lifted my spirits, and I am so grateful!

Fly away, Paul: The Wagtail family have departed, swiftly and silently. One minute they were there, the tiny nest overflowing with three hulking great teenage babies, the anxious parents hovering and darting in with mouthfuls of whiskery insects. The next, they were all gone. I checked carefully on the ground below the nest for signs of tragedy, and in the nest itself, but it was bare. They have flown! I never got the chance to capture the nestful of babies; Mrs Wagtail was too protective and they were too cautious, ducking down when I went close enough to try for a photo. Hard to believe that tiny little bowl held three babies and their mama at one point, in wind and heat and pouring rain…

One life ends, three more tiny feathery ones begin. It’s fitting.

49 thoughts on “Fly away, Peter…

  1. Susan Nixon says:

    He will always be with you, even in his absence. That IS a tiny nest!

  2. That is a perfect bouquet! I’ve never seen one done like that. Missing a parent is ongoing. But it does soften over time. Little baby birds are so rarely photographed for just that reason but at least you were able to witness this lovely event. What a gift and yes, it is the cycle of life. Keeping you in my thoughts.

    • katechiconi says:

      The bouquet was swaddled, that’s the only way to describe it. I’ve kept the cellophane from inside, and the hessian and the ribbon. They will all have a second chance 🙂

  3. cedar51 says:

    May you reset yourself to the new beginning – slowly if that’s what you want – time is of no great haste, nor should it be.

    I found myself the other evening whilst watching a current UK traveller in Turkey showing us Anzac Cove and Gallipoli – about my Dad, who was one of the foot soldiers who went off to fight in WW1 – as a teenager. He lied about his age and at the time, the powers to be were “signing up” – he came back a changed young man with an injury that would change his life – shot in the foot, gangrene sets in and he was given a wooden 1/2 leg to manage. He never talked about the war, but somewhere along about 2 decades ago my brother gave me a little tiny notebook where Dad had penciled some memories…I still have the notebook.

    Of course, I started thinking about Dad who died (as did Mum) when I was in my early 20s…especially how he had farmed a ballot block in the backblocks of the King Country. The difficulties he would’ve had and so forth and of course, not helped by a wood/leather leg…along with the other war time of smoking…

    What I’m trying to say – you will always have memories of your Dad, often popping up at the right time…

    • katechiconi says:

      Isn’t it strange how our reticent parents and grandparents, who didn’t talk about their experiences or make a fuss about what fate served up to them, have given birth to us, who discuss feelings and experiences freely (and probably over-share if we’re honest!). I’m grateful for the life Pa gave me; it’s bumpy, but it’s good, and I think once this rocky corner is turned, I’ll be OK again.

  4. I’m so pleased the bouquet, as well as floral cheeriness, gave you materials you could upcycle. It’s said grief is experienced in stages, and a service or ritual commemorating the passing of a life is commonly held to assist the living with at least one of those early stages. It is often a beautiful and moving event but at the same time sad and difficult. I’m glad you aren’t on your own, I think it’s best done in company of loved ones, and yours are special, so you’ve got that covered. As well, as I have been since I heard the news, will be thinking of you today and in the days to come ♡

    • katechiconi says:

      There’s a lot to be said for formal rituals through the stages of life. They really do help us move on and forward. It’s not fashionable to wear mourning clothes, for example, but I have worn only black, white and grey for the past month. No-one has noticed, but I made me feel I was acknowledging my loss in a discreet but tangible way. Thank you so much for the support; I feel it, I really do.

  5. Marty K says:

    Holding space in my heart for you and for your family today. 💜

  6. Beautiful.
    Much love Kate
    Wearing colours to suit a life situation has definitely been a helpful thing for me. When my Dad died, it was 2 years before I even thought of wearing pink again.
    Going through the seasons brings different memories of loved ones who have gone ahead of us. Nature gently guides us through.
    Farewell Peter, Paul and all the little fledglings. ❤

    • katechiconi says:

      There’s something about deliberate decisions like that which helps to formalise and ratify feelings of sadness. It helps, I feel better for doing it. It’s ‘putting on my winter plumage’ if you like… Peter will be ushered out to ancient words and triumphant music, in about 4 hours’ time. And thanks to technology, I shall see it.

  7. I hope the funeral helps you to settle again and open a new chapter. Grief is not a neat and tidy emotion nor does it wane evenly. Iamso glad that the birds gave you pleasure and that they chose such an apt moment to leave.

    • katechiconi says:

      I think it will help; just now I feel rather as if I’m flapping in the breeze. I count it a good sign that I was finally able to finish something I’d been picking up and putting down for days…

  8. nanacathy2 says:

    Its nearly seven years that I lost my Dad , but he still feels close by, even though we moved areas. Your Dad will always be with you when you need him. Wonderful news about the fledglings. Hugs, xx

  9. So much flies away before we’re ready. Holding you in my heart, my friend.

  10. kymlucas says:

    I do remember that rhyme. I used to use it in storytimes at my library. Interesting how a phrase like that will repeat itself in your mind, and comforting too. Someone (maybe Jane Fonda) said on her father’s death something like “Our parents’ deaths are our last links with immortality severed.” With my dad, I felt mostly relief. He’d had Alzheimer’s for years, and that which made him himself was already long gone when he died. It had slipped away little by little, and all that was left was a shell. With Mom, I know it will be different. It already is – a much longer process, and I worry about how I will handle the end when it comes.

    • katechiconi says:

      Speaking from experience, I wish Pa had worked with us to plan what he wanted, but he always refused to. I think I’ll have rather a lot of fun planning mine. The formality of the occasion really does help, I find. Ma’s funeral was searing; I was 23 and it was emotion overload, but Pa’s has been in the fullness of time, and if you’d asked him, past due!

  11. “Swaddled” – lovely imagery. (your comment on the unusual floral arrangement)
    May this day swaddle you with peace.

  12. magpiesue says:

    Wow, those birds didn’t waste any time leaving the nest! Meanwhile, I hope the funeral service, even attended virtually, will give you the solace you need. We’ll talk soon.

  13. Sharon says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you – May his memory be a blessing ~ hugs

  14. may the memories and the love you shared bring you comfort always and wrap you in a warm hug.

    • katechiconi says:

      All through, I sat thinking how much he’d have approved of and enjoyed the funeral and the ceremonial. He had some mighty words spoken over him, some powerful wishes speeding after him. He’ll be fine… I feel much more cheerful about things now.

  15. May your Pa’s soul Rest in Eternal Peace & the Hole in your heart will slowly fill with joy .
    The babies are on their journey now and on their wings fly your thoughts and love for your Pa ♥️

    • katechiconi says:

      Having seen the beauty and dignity of his funeral through digital ‘eyes’, I feel a real sense of resolution and finality. It’s time to move on; he’s gone on ahead, and I must move ahead too.

  16. tialys says:

    What can i say that hasn’t already been said?
    It sounds as if he had a grand send-off and one he would have approved of. I shed a tear or two when reading that beautiful poem – it’s a new one on me but one I’ll store it in my memory now.

  17. Emmely says:

    *hugs* funeral days are always strange and I imagine even more so when you are not able to attend in person.

  18. Terri says:

    My condolences to you and your family. I know you will take comfort in the wonderful memories of your father. Initially, those memories may make your sad, but soon they will make you smile. I know firsthand how difficult it is since I lost my mom to Covid this past year. So many things make me think of her and now that gives me comfort. My sister and I both have been going through her fabric stash and making quilts with the bits and pieces she left for us. So we will be able to wrap ourselves in mom’s memory.

    • katechiconi says:

      That sounds as if it’ll be a great comfort to you. The quilt I made Pa will now stay with my brother in the UK, where it’s much better suited to the climate – it’s a warm one! It was a very good funeral; it filled a need to acknowledge his life and formalise his passing, and I know he’d have enjoyed it!

  19. gwenniesgardenworld says:

    My condolences to you and your family. It must be hard not to be able to be there for his funeral. I recently had a funeral, my aunt died of covid, she was 93. It was a very odd funeral, only 15 people could go to her funeral cos of covid restrictions, no talking afterwards, no coffee, just church and graveyard, everyone wearing a mask. But I’m sure you’ll keep him in your heart.

    • katechiconi says:

      It was the same at my father’s funeral, only 20, and everyone in masks. But there were many more of us watching on Zoom, so he had a good ‘crowd’. He would have enjoyed it!

  20. rutigt says:

    I think of my father almost every day, although he went away in July, 2006. In my dreams he is still here.

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