Chocolate and dying

Jan 9th, 2006 | By | Category: Personal Columns

The last of the Christmas sweets and chocolates are slowly disappearing: the ones no-one really liked, or the ones that got pushed to the back of the cupboard and make a surprise appearance when you think you’re down to a choice between Rich Tea or confectionery of some dubious foreign pedigree.

In one surprise box, there were little sticks of chocolate in one compartment that had chips of mint in them. Making a grab before the last of them disappeared, I said, ‘these are like Matchmakers, or whatever they’re called’.

‘Ian’, said the best beloved, ‘I don’t think Matchmakers have been around for years’.

I felt kind of sad that something else I had liked had disappeared and I had not even noticed.

A friend of mine won’t visit the ‘Friends Reunited’ website because she says it makes her gloomy. The times that had been enjoyed had disappeared and could not be recaptured.

The sense of loss, the sense of the familiar disappearing is an inevitable part of existence.
There is a Tom Stoppard line about life having a brownness around the edges, an autumnal quality, which for me captures the quality of such feelings.

A Presbyterian minister in the North, who is a very close friend, once told me that our parents were our last line of defence against the inevitability of our own fading away.

Perhaps I’ve escaped the sense of brownness longer than most; my grandmother celebrates her 93rd birthday this week, but perhaps the brownness is also a matter of attitude. I knew a wonderful lady who was given a new greenhouse for her 92nd birthday, ‘Mr Poulton,’ she said,’I don’t know what I’ll do when I get old’. Her world had turned repeatedly between her birth in 1903 and her death at a young 95 in 1998, yet for her it was full of freshness and vitality.

Perhaps the answer is not to bemoan the loss of Matchmakers but to delight at the invention of something as indulgent as a bucket of Celebrations.

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