On 15th April 2019, a new date was recorded for posterity, with the devastating fire in the Notre Dame Cathedral, in Paris. Events, of every hue, in every life, create anniversaries; some that must not be forgotten, others that might disappear into, or be distorted by, the mists of time, simply because there’s no-one left to remember.
Our histories are marked by events, some small and insignificant, others world shattering. It's likely to be the latter that make the greatest mark on our continuing lives.
Recently, my eldest celebrated her 40th birthday. With birthdays, decades matter, so she took her family on a trip to remember. I still recall the day of her birth, a long day of waiting, followed by such a feeling of elation, of happiness that all had gone smoothly and all was well.
Marrying my first wife while I was in my final year of teacher training was the start of a 32-year journey until her death in 2005. In a quirk of fate, on our 20th wedding anniversary, a surgeon, using his kindest manner, told us that D had breast cancer. Our wedding anniversary, from that moment, became an anniversary of survival. Five and ten years were celebrated with a ceilidh for friends and family. D’s death created another date to commemorate.
On June 1st, it’s the 25th anniversary of buying a small house in France as a “life project”, trying to thumb a nose at life in general and offering a different kind of stability during holidays.
The house in France is in the Limousin region. One town nearby will be remembering a devastating event that occurred 75 years ago. While many areas of France, starting on the north coast, will be remembering their liberation after D-day, on a rolling timetable from early June, Oradour sur Glane will commemorate the destructive nature of a defeated force taking revenge while withdrawing. A Nazi battalion encircled the town and herded people to the centre, before shooting the men, grenading the church with women and children inside and setting fire to buildings.
Meeting with my sister recently, we reminisced about our childhood, which was marked by our mother announcing that she would be leaving the family home on 11th October (1965) after her summer season job in a local hotel finished on the 8th. Leaving home for school on 11th October, seeing a travel bag packed by the door and being asked if we wanted to go with her created an indelible mark.
So, dates keep piling up. I have another anniversary and additional birthdays to remember now, having been lucky and found M, extending the family further. Mind, you, it’s just as well that we keep a diary with the information copied from one year to the next, as an aide memoire. I’m beginning to experience senior moments…
I wonder what anniversaries you mark?
Picture; the view from our French cottage