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Remembrance and reality

Where I live there are quite a number of widows / widowers like myself. I've asked some of them when I might hope for the sadness to begin to moderate. 'Never' came back their universal answer. 'It doesn't happen like that'. 'So what does happen?' I asked. Shrugs. Shaking of heads....

It's nearly five months since Delia died and although I have taken up the reins of my own micro business life - small as it is, Pictures and Poems demands long hours and great concentration of mind - she is always here with me. The thing that brought this grieving thing into sharp relief was my receipt of an invitation by Highland Hospice to a kind of Memorial Service on May 24th. Dee, they said, would have an entry in their memorial book and would I like to have something inscribed therein, in remembrance? This is what I sent back ...

As it was before

Yes, I remember how it was before;
remembering now most keenly -
at the start and at the ending
of each, so crowded, passing day,
the way it was with lovely Dee.
For at such times I see her clear
her timeless, ageless smile
can stem my mostly withheld tears,
can soothe the quickly passing years
with words that only I can hear.

She’ll not grow old as I grow old;
and she is in my waking thoughts,
my sleeping dreams: how’s that?
Who is to tell, who is to understand
why you can or cannot hold
the fleeting shadow of love’s life
or rays of sunshine in your hand?
For her, decaying time’s no more
but I will always know just how it was:
the way it was, with her, before.

Bryan Islip
April 17 2014

From the sublime to the prosaic, my cards and booklets and prints, etc, do well this year. And my 2015 calendar is particularly in demand. Dee didn't want me to go through the stress of creating and selling another calendar. It's the only one of my products with an automatic sell-by date. What doesn't sell you throw away. Gut-wrenching! But in making it a new 'desktop' format instead of my customary wall hanger I figure it's sufficiently different for her and me not to worry. So I won't. Just move on with the selling.

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First of the many - Me and Billy McGhee (alias Dee Islip)

First of the many - Me and Billy McGhee (alias Dee Islip)
Photograph courtesy of Colin Robertson

How it all started...

Our packaging business was based in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. On the 11th of September 2001, in a hotel bar, I watched the fall of the twin towers.

Three days later I met my wife, Dee, at Heathrow. We made out way north to a long planned holiday in the north west Highlands of Scotland.

By the end of that holiday our decisions were all made; we would close up our Middle East operations. I would come home to Winchester and in due course we would move up to Wester-Ross.

All my life I had played around with painting pictures and with writing verse and fiction. Now I would do this for our living, and in a place where you only had to lift your eyes to lift your mind.

In September 2002 we moved north; we had come home.

What you see here and at Pictures and Poems is some of the result thus far.

'Come on along o' me, for the best is yet to be.'