On a fine woman, swans and a moment long ago.


My mother passed away suddenly but peacefully in January of this year. It didn’t make the Times obituary columns, so I’ll do it for her but in my own way, which helps me take my leave, though she and my father, as the greatest influences in my life, will always be with me. I was fortunate to spend the last afternoon of her life in conversation with her and as usual, it was a pleasure.

If there is a Heaven, then a river runs through it and there’s a bend in it that looks a lot like Kilbride in the 1940s. It’s a fine Summer’s day. There’s a man and a woman having a picnic. She’s been watching him fish and he’s very good, she can tell. She’s an astute and accomplished person who notices things like that.

He’s worried. She’s young and beautiful. He loves her and knows this simple fact but he’s a good bit older than her and there are other problems too. She comes from money and he doesn’t; the youngest son who inherited no land, so he’s having to work hard. From a standing start, he’s doing well though and knows he’ll do better. He’s hungry, got brains and is not scared to build a business, which he will do. There are some things in his past but none he’s ashamed of but they are there. He’ll be a good provider for her he knows and wants a chance to prove it.

He first saw her driving past in a car, a red sports car, which was highly unusual for the times; a young woman who could drive, never mind the sports car, red or otherwise. He asked a friend he was with at the time, who she was and his friend told him her name. His friend asked him why and he responded that she was the woman he was going to marry; it was as simple as that. She was the one.

He was working hard to impress her and acting a bit foolishly, as all people in love do. He even lit a cigarette using a magnifying glass just to show her that though he might not have been to college, he’d read books and knew things. He loved books and would share and impart that love generously.

He was wasting his time. She loved him the first moment she saw him and everything since had just confirmed that feeling. She lay on the blanket and watched him fish and liked the shapes his body made as he cast the fly. He was beautiful.

She liked the way he’d tied a piece of string he’d brought along around two bottles of beer, before placing them in the stream, so they’d be cold for the picnic. Considerate and thinks ahead. He caught a lot of fish but only took the two best ones and waded ashore with them. He cut a square of grass out with his penknife and dug out a shallow pit in which he started a small fire with dry twigs. She knew that square would be put back when they’d finished. The fish were impaled on two sticks and cooked in minutes.

He pulled the sticks out of the ground and handed her one. He opened the skin of the Trout and started to pick morsels of flesh off with his fingers, showing her how to do it. Yet another surprise; typically and amazingly him – no forks then. She’d never eaten with her fingers in her entire life. It was the most delicious meal she’d ever had. She made the decision then that she would give herself to him and make him hers and they would spend the rest of their lives together.

They did and their lives together were truly extraordinary. Good times and bad times, they’d face them together. Swans mate for life.

So that’s the way Heaven should be. The one perfect moment in your life, which stretches into the perfect afternoon and then the perfect Summer evening and then on until all the mountains are ground down to dust and all the rivers run no more and then on and on, until the end of eternity.


Related articles by Pointman:

That stuff, is it beautiful?


The difficult kind.

Click for a list of other articles.

21 Responses to “On a fine woman, swans and a moment long ago.”
  1. meltemian says:

    Pointman – I knew you were a wordsmith but this is just beautiful, it brought tears to my eyes.

    (Love the Red MG, my sister had one, those were the days……..)


  2. Blackswan says:

    I’ve been watching the swans on the river as they shepherd their young cygnets out of the reed-beds and shallows into the swift mainstream currents, father always leading the way, cygnets safely protected as mother is close behind to give the youngsters courage and reassurance.

    Now Pointman, with respect, whenever I see them I’ll always be reminded of you and your family.


  3. Pointman says:

    @Mel & Swan, If I’ve managed to share with you a flavour of her and him, then I’m happy man.


  4. MikeO says:

    I wish I could remember my Mum and Dad that way, I envy your memories. I have fond memories of Mum but not of Dad. They are long gone and did a lot of things right but certainly my childhood has few pleasent memories. You are very fortunate such memories are not at all common!


    • val majkus says:

      Lovely story; e mailed the link to a friend of mine who has a ‘fishing proposal’ story as well although a generation after your parents


  5. mlpinaus says:

    Thank you. A touching tribute indeed. Thank you.



  6. Pointman says:

    I’m thinking of you guys tonight. The news is, this year you’re about to become grandparents yet again and great-grandparents three more times. A better year than the last I guess. They’ll all be interesting children. You’d enjoy playing with them, I think.




  7. Lady in Red says:

    Yes, PointMan….. This is beautiful, indeed. Indeed.

    “Multiculturalism” is well done, and correct, also. How sad to destroy, muck up, when intending to do “good.”
    Ah, the law of unintended consequences.

    About the “stages of grief” through which the climate science folk are now passing…..? I hope you are correct.
    At the same time, the political forces, which (I believe) created this bandwagon of “scientific” enthusiasm, have
    not abandoned the ramparts. Long dead climate scientists may still be strapped onto horses and sent to
    battle. I don’t know. We will see.

    ….Lady in Red


  8. Pointman says:




  9. val majkus says:

    Hi Pointman – love your writing
    and my mother was buried yesterday
    If I had Pointman’s gift of words well …
    but as it is I put this comment on Catallaxy

    Ohhh…I’ve just watched Bob Brown on Meet the Press; if this is what Tasmania produces I don’t want to go there
    On the other hand it started me thinking of productivity; my mother was buried on Saturday; she was 96 years old and never lived off the state – other than in her later years she received a blind pension ($600 a month from memory)
    But no other pension or income from the State
    How does Brown compete with that
    and if he doesn’t then why is he spruiking his opinion about censorship; Afgan withdrawal and other things which he thinks is imperative
    Bob Brown; show us your credibility! I haven’t seen it yet and you’ve put me off Tasmania
    Is everybody there like you?

    With apologies to Pointman who I think lives in Tasmania


    • Pointman says:

      I’m sorry for your loss Val.



      • val majkus says:

        thanks Pointman … your tribute to your mother is one of the most beautiful tributes I’ve ever read; but we can’t all be like you
        but I remembered your tribute and came back here to make my own
        So a tribute to you from me
        thank you


  10. Pointman says:

    It’s been a good year. Everyone is happy and getting on with the business of life. Youse guys would be proud. The gene pool is expanding alarmingly!


  11. Pointman says:

    It’s been a decent year, we’re all still here but we lost a little fellow. You two take him and love him to your heart for me. I know you will.


    • Old Rooster says:

      These reports are better than any ‘State of the Union’ address. I don’t think there is or can be such a thing as a bad version of ‘My Lagan Love’ but that one’s a corker. In return I offer you this—TWO ISLAND SWANS- ONE LAST COLD KISS CHRISTY MOORE …

      I have it on vinyl which should still be in good nick as I copied the entire album onto Metal Tape (Remember those?) to play every night in my student days. If anything Chisty’s voice has aged to give even more credibility to this song.


  12. Pointman says:

    Some great news. You two have a new great grandchild. He’s coincidentally named Michael like his great great grandfather and came in at a champion weight of 9lb 15oz, unfortunately not beating Vladdy’s record.

    Him, Mum and Dad are all doing well. I’m pretty chuffed meself.



  13. Pointman says:

    You already know the great news. Though still a tiny little scut, he’s already got a way about him I recognise. He plays with you but after a while looks away. He’ll be fun but he’s born old school. You keep a good eye on him for me.


  14. Pointman says:

    All your babies made it through the year. We’re all reasonably hale and hearty given our vintage these days. You’ve got gazillions more great grandchildren but I’m sure you know all about that. Our little man is thriving. He’s got your music sense Dad and your smarts Mum. Unfortunately he’s also got his granddad’s complete bone idleness.

    He does just enough work through the day to charm the birds out of the trees, but the evenings are his own. He lounges back on the couch like a Roman emperor watching his favourite TV programs while his two serfs hurriedly peel grapes for him.

    Music for you from a city you never got to see.


  15. Pointman says:

    We lost a man, but whatever the story, he was blood. I’ve spent enough time in the room called sorrows and done my orisons for him. Time to walk on. For him.



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