When my father died - in 2010 - he left me the contents of his studio, perhaps judging that I might be the one to best make use of such. The watercolour paper, paints and all the accoutrements of an artists trade have undoubtedly been a wonderful gift. Indeed, at my present rate of production, I may be passing some of this stuff on to my own children.
However, of much greater value - at least in terms of understanding my father - are some of the many items that he kept for sentimental or family reasons. Things to remind him of his personal history like his discharge papers from the armed forces; photographs of family (of course); pieces that had belonged to my grandfather (who died during the war of a brain tumour), and so on. Such things present a larger picture of the man to whom I owe so much, but in many ways hardly knew.
He was a private man and rarely shared his feelings on things, but I know more of him as I get older and realise that so much of my thoughts and attitudes were his also.
He was not a religious man. My mother told me once that he was an atheist, but latterly he would visit a church near his home in Campbeltown, Argyll and claimed to enjoy the preaching of the minister at the time. This is a long way from 'a life in the Spirit', but it says to me that he was always questioning, seeking an understanding why.
In his studio, I found several Bibles. His father's Bible, his mother's and a beautiful little one entitled Bagster's Polyglot Bible (English version), which contains some marvellous appendices which would put many modern Study Bibles to shame. There was no trace of one belonging to my father, other than a slip of paper tucked inside my grandfather's Bible. It dates from 1932, when my father would have been 7 years of age. In my grandfather's hand is written "The cloud, which intercepting the clear light, Hangs o'er thy eyes, and blunts thy mortal sight, I will remove."
Apart from the beautiful sentiment in the verse, it obviously meant something important in that it was a link to his father, even although the Bible itself had gone.
And now that same piece of paper forms a similar link for me - to my father, and through him to my paternal grandfather, whom I never knew, as he died nearly 10 years before I was born.