My father came for Christmas. He is 84 and wrote a novel last year which won a major literary prize in Italy in September. He is an incredible character. Despite the fact that we have never lived together (my parents split up when I was two) he has an uncanny ability to work out whatever happens to be worrying me and giving me good advice.
This Christmas his travelling companion was my mother. It was lovely to see them together; amusing and rather unusual. They act a little like an old married couple. One morning my mother noticed his flies were undone.
“Your flies are undone,” she said.
“Of course they are,” he replied. “I left them undone for you to tell me to do them up. Otherwise what use are you?”
Rupert asked my father if he thought I am more like him or my mother.
“I ignore anything that is not like me in Helena,” he said. “I have the impression that I made her all myself.”
My mother, who has a generous nature and plenty of humour, lets this kind of comment slide.
But it is an odd thing, that when I look into his eyes, I have the impression that I am looking into my own.
They have gone now. My father is on to his next novel and wants to take my mother with him to Poland where he needs to go to do some research. I’m not sure she’s tempted by the idea of Poland with a literary genius who forgets to do his flies up, but you never know. And they were such fun to be with, I might go along myself.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2008