I was telling someone recently that there's only 4 people on my list of dead people I often think of with love.
1. The most recent addition to the list is the old dear. She did her best to look after me when I was wee. Even if she wasn't that good at it, and she wasn't really a very nice person, she still gave me a lot. And since she died, I'm awash with empathy.
2. There's the wee old lady with polio who loved me unconditionally (and when she died left me three grand, back when that seemed a lot).
3. There's Denny, wife of my body, who left me mind blowing loving memories, that'll be with me to the grave. I think of her every day now, even though people would say she's the least deserving on my list. Killed herself or wasted away, the jury's still out.
4. And there's Dazzle who was a proper friend and an inspiration. I abandoned him, but years later he gave me shelter when I was lost. He died young, and I didn't. A guy who never did a single malicious deed ever. I can remember his voice and his repertoire of laughs - choking, screeching, or braying.
That's a total of three women, and one alien.
But wait! There's more! How could I have forgotten the others? Three males. It all balances up.
5. The old man. He's been dead 20 years, and I think better of him now than I ever did when he was alive. If you don't grow to love your father some time before you die, there's something wrong with you, not him. And you would never take pride in the ways you're like him. Ideally, you would be able to love him while he himself is still alive, but you can't have everything.
6. The uncle who was going to leave me all the gold bars one day, even though that's not going to happen. (I sold his gold watch to a pawnbroker last week, for $100). But he gave me insight into how men of power engage with the world. And I admire things about him, though he was nothing like me. He was terrified of death. I'm not bothered if I die tonight, I just don't want the loneliness of a lingering demise.
7. Reluctantly, I sometimes think of the stepfather who died this year. I don't think I ever liked him, but he took care of the old dear for 30 years, and that deserves a medal.
That's my list.
I think the Japanese have this elder-respect at the core of their lives, or at least the Shinto ones do. I used to see it as a repressive tendency, but now I reckon it's also a kind of ongoing meditation, or maybe contemplation.