June 17th 1978....a Saturday, just 2 days before my 1st A level (Music Aural, as it happens)
The independent school I was attending had Saturday morning lessons, but these were suspended for the Upper 6th so that we could concentrate on revision.
I think I was working on history when my housemaster came into the library, tapped me on the shoulder and took me away from my books and, I guess, away from my childhood too.
That morning, while I was worrying about the causes of the English Civil War, my father had quietly moved on from the pain of the last weeks of cancer, the sadness of saying farewell, and had gone safely home to the God whom he'd served with quiet devotion all his 67 years.
The next days, weeks, months were unlike anything I had ever experienced.
From being younger than my years, focussed solely on exam work and music I found myself abruptly transformed into the adult as my mother struggled with a loss so devastating that it took with it her will to live, her reason to engage with the world.
When she died herself, 6 months later, it was almost a relief. They needed to be together - and, surely, had done all they could to prepare me for the world.
And, you know, I think they pretty much had.
They had taught me that there is always enough Love to go round, and had given me a language to recognise this.
They had taught me that it's ALWAYS worth going the extra mile for your friends (and had given me friends who demonstrated that in so many many ways)
They had shown me how books and music can transform pretty much any situation and left me with a lifelong passion for both
And they had shown me how to give, and why it matters to make a difference.
Sometimes, though, I wonder what else I might have learned - particularly now, as I explore what it means to be the parent of adult children...how to provide enough support to be helpful without either swamping or disabling them...how (the familiar, but still challenging lesson here) to both embrace and let go.They never had to do that...I hope that, one day, my children will look back on my parenting with the same gratitude with which I remember - not just on anniversaries, but whenever I think of them.