In just the last few days we have executed the will, celebrated Connor's wedding, and I have revisited our old home in Istanbul. So, with that for a final flourish, I think the blog is now closed.
The final estate came to quite a tidy sum, a sum that mum and dad would have been surprised at, I am sure. It seems to me to be a sound legacy, a significant inheritance for all of us, and one that mum and dad would have been very pleased and proud to have bestowed. Good on them, I say. They were good parents in life, and in death provided as they had in life.
Rachel received all mum's jewellery in addition to her quarter of the rest of the estate. She has been passing items of this collection to the other females in the family, as mum wished. This week she had the opportunity to pass on some more, a pair of emerald earrings, to Vanessa, Connor's wife. The presentation was made at a dinner Derek hosted just a few days before the wedding, and all of us were present: Derek and Janet with their family, Rebecca and Connor; Rachel; me; and Greg and Regan with Cassy. Vanessa's family were there too. Rachel was overcome with tears and so Janet actually presented the earrings, then all the women started to cry. Most of the men looked on with some bemusement, but we all knew that here was a poignant moment that mum could never know - the first marriage of one of her grandchildren, and the welcoming of a new woman into the family.
And that was a thought that kept coming back to me throughout the day of the wedding: 'wouldn't mum have loved to have seen this?' And dad would have been pleased too, I am sure, just not quite as very happy as I know mum would have been. But it is all just idle fancy now. They are both dead, and though their lives came to a stop, everyone else's just keeps going, and there is no sense of stopping. How can there be?
On the way home I had a long stop-over at Istanbul, and succumbed to the temptation to leave the airport and visit our old apartment building, providing I could find it. It is about 35 years since we lived there, and not only was it mum and dad's home for perhaps two years, but our maternal grandfather also stayed there for quite a while.
Turkey has changed tremendously since then. The place has a palpable buzz now, and seems fast and businesslike. Everyone I encountered spoke English, and it was easy to arrange a car to take me to Yesilyurt. This is a seaside suburb, close to the airport where dad worked. I was dropped off at the Polat Renaissance hotel, a towering glass building which was not there in our day. Under an occasional smattering of raindrops I set off to walk along the seafront, looking for the seawall that Greg and I walked upon nearly every day, the small beach where we played, and the apartment building where we lived. So much has changed that I found it hard to get even a rough idea of where I was. I had to ask directions and was sent back the way I came. I passed the hotel and began looking on the far side. Almost immediately, I got a sensation that I was in the right place. I rounded the hotel's walled-off section of shore and found the old sea wall, just as I remembered it, just a bit more weathered, perhaps. I walked along it to where the beach should be only to see that the hotel itself had been built right over the top of it! It then seemed amazingly coincidental that this was where the driver had chosen to drop me off. I turned back and went in search of the apartment building and, with a good sense of direction and a memory of the rough layout of the streets, I found it.
The building looked as if it hadn't been touched since we left. It was quite badly run-down, and probably the worst looking in the immediate area. I took photos of the front and back, seeing the window to the bedroom that Greg and I shared. Rachel also stayed here for a while. We all had such good memories of this place, but something strange has happened to them. It is bitter-sweet seeing the changes here. On one hand I am pleased to see the area develop and thrive, but I am sad to see features like our little beach get obliterated. I so dearly wanted to be able to show my photographs and tell the story of my return to this spot to mum and dad, but I can't. I'll show Greg and Rachel, and see how much they can remember, and we will reminisce about the place. We'll recall the day our grandfather accidentally ordered 10 loaves of bread from the little 'hole in the wall' bakery. It has gone now, and the street now has a Citibank and many shiny clean shops in its place. We'll remember dad's odd friend from work, and how mum disliked him. We'll talk about the many trips we made from the local railway station, walking from the apartment down roads which now have proper kerbs, but didn't back then. Many memories of places and times, events and travels, and mum and dad; Istanbul left a strong impression on all of us.
But in these and other memories, mum and dad are now fading and becoming just parts of the whole.