In contemplation, Documentary, Family Bonding
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One of the many ways my parents brought beauty and long horizons into our lives in a crowded council house in Crawley was yearly membership to the National Trust. This allowed our fast growing family to wander the exquisite gardens once enjoyed by only the rich as often as we liked. Nymans’ was close enough for visits after school in summer and so became the most frequently explored. My Dad, a physics teacher, piled us all in our VW for the short journey. It was a place I always walked with my Dad on trips home and when I returned from Istanbul in 2016, visits became almost as frequent as when I was a child.

There has always been something about my Dad’s gentle physical pace that reflected his inner calm and solidity. It held space for my thoughts. Walking beside him steadied my nerves and deepened my breath. In Nymans’, however busy the rest of the day, time was expansive, conversation generous and the wide vistas always lifted me.

On the 19th of October my Mum sent a message to our family group chat that the results of the scan we had all been pushing for my Dad to get were in and “it’s not good news.” Within hours all of my siblings had gathered to sit around Dad’s bed.

Family gather around father who is sick in bed.
Family members cry next to their dad who is sick in bed.

The next day, after visiting the doctor, my parents calmly delivered the news that Dad had terminal cancer. The first plan that was made following the news was that we would visit Nymans’ the next morning. We all wanted to sit with Dad in the little white summer house we had played in as kids and look out on the far reaching view. And so we sat, ten of us, watching the rain clear and the mist roll out of the valley.

Three siblings sit close to their father who is smiling.
Husband and wife sit closely holding hands.
Three siblings sit with their father. They are holding tea cups.
A husband and wife and two of their children sit close together in a summer house in autumn.
A young man stands in front of a beautiful view on a foggy day.

Laughing, crying, steadying we pushed my Dad through the autumn flowers one last time.

A family push their father through beautiful borders in autumn.

My Dad did not leave the house again. Sixteen days later he died in my Mum’s arms in his own bed while I sat meters away in the garden they had grown together, enjoying a sunlit break in the rain with my beloved siblings. I am certain I haven’t even begun to process the enormity of my Dad’s passing. I know the waves of loss will come season after season. I also know that he has equipped me to walk with it, through it. During hundreds of walks he taught me the pace of recovery and reflection and to always always look up to see the view.


  1. I grew up down the road from nymans in staplefield. So many memories of walking through those woods. Sorry for your loss

  2. 💕💓 what a beautiful tribute to your dad and this special place.

    • Thank you so much Lucy. I love that it will always be a place to visit when I need to feel close to him.

  3. The loss is difficult yet how wonderful you had that one last day you will always remember. And there is so much visible love in these images as well… xo

  4. Such a beautiful tribute to your father and the love of your family. Peace be with you.

  5. What a beautiful and loveful tribute. And how comforting that you’ll have such a place where you can be with your father again anytime you wish.

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