The Benches/02

So there I am, up a tree – plenty of time on my paws to ponder on things, to let thoughts roll in and out of my consciousness.  There one comes; it leaves an impression, plants a seed in my awareness, and there it goes again, to be replaced by another.  They roll in; they roll out again.

Some of them stay – rest with me awhile – and stir feelings deep within me.

Words swirl in my brain,

the bench’s refrain:

“Rest awhile in memory of Bill & Ivy Cartwright”.

The names – of a certain generation – recall my maternal grandparents to me.  How long they have been gone, now.

How precious is life – as I stretch, in my tree – and how permanent, death.

I ponder the sadness of parting, of passing, of loss; and


There he is again, suddenly.

Hullo, Dadski.

Hullo and Goodbye, all in one breath.  For he too is long gone.  So… 

“Rest awhile in memory of Henry Ruskin”, intones the voice in my head.

Or, to use his Polish name, the name he grew up with:

“Rest awhile in memory of Henryk Wladyslaw Ruszkiewicz”.

And I do, for a moment.

For my father has no bench, no plaque, no moss-covered gravestone.

There is no urn of ashes on the mantelpiece, and never was.

He just went up in smoke


When I was a child

And that was that.

Sometimes I just have to keep very still, with the sadness of it.

The Benches /01

Sometimes people don’t see me because they are so busy reading the benches.

I mean, of course, the commemorative plaques and epitaphs on the backs of the benches.  There are many of them in Parsonage Gardens.  Lazing in the tree, I can see the words “Rest awhile in memory of Bill and Ivy Cartwright” engraved in the wooden backrest of one of the nearest benches facing me.  And so I do.  I rest awhile (and then a while longer) in memory of Bill and Ivy, whoever they were.

"Rest awhile in memory of Bill and Ivy Cartwright"

“Rest awhile in memory of Bill and Ivy Cartwright”

There is a man who comes to sit by the magnolia tree on a Tuesday, because his wife’s ashes were scattered on the ground beneath it (no trace of them now).  So I am mindful, as I go about my business of being a leopard in the tree, that some visitors to the gardens come here to connect with someone they loved, and have lost; and I try to tread carefully, with light paws – respectfully – around their moments of reverie.

I am reminded of this quote, introduced to me by my mother, some years ago:-

“I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I,
and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful.”

(‘Gestalt Prayer‘ by Frederick E. (or Fritz) Perls).

When I began this post, I looked up the word ‘epitaph’ online, to make sure it meant what I thought it did (and it does), and I came across this rather lovely blog.