I live in the village of Diggle in an area known as Saddleworth, on the edge of Saddleworth Moor between Oldham and
Huddersfield. One of the great pleasures of living in this beautiful area is the close proximity to wild moorland and the abundant opportunities for walking, mountain biking and fell running.
Some years ago, I am not sure when, I was walking on the moorland above the Castleshaw Roman Fortress. I remember that it was a windy day, with rain in the air, probably a little cold, but I felt the wind blowing on my face, washing away the worries of the world.
A piece of sodden white notepaper blew across my path, and I felt the urge to pick it up. The words belonged to a strong hand; they had purpose and appeared in capitals. As I read the prose, I immediately understood the meaning was special and came from the heart. I still have the piece of paper, and it reads;
THESE WORDS DEDICATED TO PAUL BY (?) AUDREY
THE WORDS ARE OF CHEROKEE INDIAN DESCENT
DO NOT STAND BY MY GRAVE AND WEEP
I AM NOT THERE, I DO NOT SLEEP.
I AM A 1000 WINDS THAT BLOW,
I AM THE DIAMOND GLINT ON THE SNOW.
I AM THE SUNLITE ON THE RIPENED GRAIN
I AM THE GENTLE AUTUMN RAIN.
WHEN YOU AWAKE IN THE MORNING HUSH
I AM THE SWIFT UPLIFTING RUSH
OF QUIET BIRDS IN CIRCLING FLIGHT
I AM THE SOFT STARSHINE AT NITE
DO NOT STAND BY MY GRAVE AND CRY
I AM NOT THERE, I DID NOT DIE.
It is a beautifully sad poem with a simple poignant meaning of hope and comfort, and I imagined it helped Paul’s Mum and Audrey come to terms with their loss.
I do not know Paul or those who he left behind.
As the Saddleworth Willwriter I am a little disturbed by the last line, and wonder if this would make his Will invalid. However, it is moor (sic) than a letter of wishes, it is a voice from the heart.