Cold Water and Goose Pimples David

Goldfish (detail). Jean Hippolyte Marchand. c.1920s-c.1930s © National Gallery of Ireland

My father’s funeral was on a bleak winter’s day. Freezing rain slanted down along a strong wind during the burial. Afterwards, we went to a local hotel for the funeral lunch.

I saw my aunt sitting alone at a table and I went across to chat to her. She has dementia. I asked her how she was.

‘Oh, I’ve had a lovely morning,' she said.

'What did you do?' I asked, remembering her gaunt figure standing by the graveside an hour before.

'I went swimming with my brother down on the strand, we took our bikes and had a picnic.' 

She told me in vivid detail about that day, perhaps seventy years ago. It was a deep consolation that, on the day of his funeral, I was transported back to an idyllic summer’s morning in my father’s childhood. She relived every bright, sunlit moment: sand in the sandwiches, sturdy black bikes; the shock of cold water and goose pimples.