Uncle David by Sophie Austin
It’s 10.30am and 24 degrees already. We are walking up a Welsh mountain.
You are strapped to your dad’s back. I’m carrying a picnic for the 8 of us making the climb.
Actually, there are 10 of us, if you include the dog and Uncle David. His ashes are in a green plastic box being carried by your aunt.
David died two years ago. He was the best of men. The world is worse off without his eccentric sense of humour, actor’s charm and Northern wit. Although he became physically depleted in the end, he was still a giant with an unparalleled warmth and sense of self.
His ashes are, unsurprisingly, heavy, and the weight of his last wish weighs on us all. Giving him up to the mountain seems too soon, even two years later.
Your young cousins take themselves up to the ridge, quiet and uncomplaining even on this hot day. They are David’s legacy; funny, kind, your heroes.
As we walk, your two-year-old babble is the only voice we hear, underscored by a distant bleat of a sheep and the sigh of resettling ashes after each footstep.
At the mountain’s peak, David is scattered. Your aunt, dad and cousins share the responsibility. Emotions that swell after a two year build up, overflow. The weighty silence is finally broken by sobs that melt into relieved laughter as you gasp with delight, watching, as the wind carries your uncle in an exultant dance above the purple heather and below the bright blue sky.
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