Hugh died thirty-five years before I was born. I glimpse the boy and man through the photographs. Earnest and good looking leaving Merionethsire to make his way in the south. The proud newly-wed. Hands on hips grinning broadly from over his work bench. The father with young children. That photograph is taken about three years before he died. Was he already aware of his own mortality?
Most of his story is pieced together from family memories. Eluned, his third child, was my mother. She adored her strong, clever father and treasured memories of days with him. But, of course, her memories stopped when she was twelve. Did he have a temper? The family have what we call the “Evans temper”. Was he a perfectionist? That seems to be in the family too.
There are no more photographs of him. They are all in last year's blogs. But this was the little stool that he made for my mother. Touching the wood that he carved is the nearest I get to him.
I look at his photographs and see a keen resemblance with my son. So my Hugh is a shadow, a chimera that I did not know. I would love to have an hour in his company to know what he was really like. But the Hugh that I have to settle for is from other people’s memories. And maybe that’s all we really are, once we’re gone.