Spain - My parents' death

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Location: Sarria, Spain.

This picture was taken by my father on 10 August 1972. There’s my brother Peter, aged six, our mother and me, aged nine. It was our parents’ last day alive.

Behind us are our tents: our parents’ to the left, Peter’s and mine to the right.

After walking through forests in the hills outside Vitoria, north-west Spain, on a perfectly sunny summer’s day, we ate supper, said our prayers and slept.

In the night, a massive thunderstorm erupted. Rain soaked our sleeping bags and huge thunderclaps crashed overhead. There were constant flashes of lightning.

When day broke, we waited for our parents but they never came. We called out to them and cried, because it was scary and unknown for them not to wake us.   

When we eventually looked into their tent, they were motionless and pale.

We went in search of help and found some road-menders. I took a Spanish-English dictionary and showed them the word ‘dead’ in Spanish: ‘muerto’.

They followed us back to the tents, then looked after us.

*             *            *

On 11 August 2022, the two of us – with our younger brother Andy who wasn’t in Spain in 1972 – travelled to Bilbao with our wives to visit our parents’ grave. We said a few words to remember them and say how much we have missed them.

It was a sombre moment. Our father John would have been 86 and Dorothy 84.

Even after all these years, we still feel their love and the care they took of us.

 © 2022 David Nicholson