He used to call me Felicity Jane and ask me if I was a tornado. “I’m a tornado. Why do you call me Felicity Jane?”
“That’s what your parents should have called you. They should have called you Felicity Jane. Felicity Jane Crane.”
He took baths on Sunday mornings in something that smelled like evergreens and he was particular about the kind of margarine and marmalade that he scraped across his half-charred toast each morning.
He’d let me turn off the burglar alarm when we’d come back from a trip to the countryside. “Do you remember the code? 4428.” 4 April 1928. His birthday.
He notoriously painted the kitchen a near-fluorescent color called Lemon Ice once after having been tasked with choosing “just a soft yellow, Ewart.”
“Granny’s cross with me,” he said with a grin, admiring his work.
“Good heavens!” he’d say about the news or about how much I’ve grown since he’d last seen me.
“Blast!” was for when he hurt himself or forgot where he’d parked the car when he picked my brother and I up from the airport.
“Shall we get some ice creams?” was for when we went on holiday. He’d buy Magnum ice cream bars and we would sit on a bench in Portscatho or Beaulieu or in the garden of some National Trust site.
The last time he bought me ice cream, the cancer had spread far enough that sitting and standing and walking was painful and he gritted his teeth. We still had a pub lunch like we always did but it was cut short by his pain.
“Would you like an ice cream Emily?” he asked on the way home. I said no but he stopped the car and hobbled into the shop and got me a Magnum ice cream bar. That was in late August of 2012.
On the evening of December 11th, hunched over my laptop finishing a term paper, I had another.
At 6:30 the next morning, my Dad called me. “I’m afraid this is the call.”
I am Felicity Jane. I am a tornado.
Dirge Without Music by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.
The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,—
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.