Tag Archives: death

A Strange Philosophical Juxtaposition

Whilst walking through a local churchyard recently, I chanced upon this scene…

How the dice got there, I have no idea. It has been pretty windy lately, so it might have blown in from an adjacent garden. But, whatever, the significance struck me immediately. Every day we roll the dice. Life, after all, is a gamble. Nothing is certain – except for one thing. Ultimately, in the end, when the big screen of existence reads ‘Game Over’, we’re all winners. For having lived at all; for having become the person we are; and for moving on to something better.

The Unexpected Result of 365 Days of Mourning

I am writing this at 9.00pm on the 15th Sept 2021. Exactly one year previous, though four hours earlier in the day, my wife’s body had been taken away to lay in a local funeral director’s establishment. I had become (and remain) a widower. I’ve been dreading the approaching anniverary for some while, as has my daughter, who took the day off from her day care centre to stay home with me. But I had already resolved to treat the day like any other. It is simply the 15th of September, just as the 14th was a regular day, and the 16th will be tomorrow. Just another day. And, by and large, both of us were successful. We spoke of her, of course; but we never dwelled upon the subject. That’s been done enough during the intervening twelve months. I also knew that I needed something to keep me occupied, lest my mind wander back through time. So I decided that I would make a model out of used household ‘stuff’.  ‘Stuff’ such as lavatory cleaners and anti-persperant containers. You know, quality ‘stuff’. I knew what sort of model I wanted to create. A space ship for the next Earplug Adventure. More specifically a honeymoon spaceship for Magnuss and Hair-Trigger.  So, having previously purchased a huge tube of contact adhesive, I set to work. Many hours later…

…the ship took on form. And what a nice colour it is too. Toyota Carina E metallic blue (which I found in the shed behind the windscreen washer fluid) and some nattily scissored pieces of yellow sticky-back plastic…

Okay it doesn’t really look much like a spaceship; but you wait until I’ve taken a few shots of this baby and played with them on my computer. Then you’ll be convinced. You will swear you can hear the hyperspace drive motors whine as it streaks across the screen. And it already has a name. Rather ironically I discovered it on an old gravestone. It belonged to a boy who died during infancy in the late Seventeen hundreds. It was a wonderful name – though not really for a little boy. Or any human being for that matter. I don’t know what his parents were thinking when they gave him that moniker: but it’ll make  a great name for an earplug spaceship. It’s called the Tankerville Norris. See, how silly is that? So I’m not going to  shed a single tear today: instead I’m going to smile. She won’t be upset, of course: I told her I was going to do it, when I woke up this morning. Of course I can’t be certain that she heard; but she knows  what a silly old Tooty I am, so she’ll figure it out. And she was always happy to help out with an Earplug Adventure. I believe I can feel her smiling wryly behind me as I type.

 

The Little Marks We Leave

At the time of this post, ten months have passed since my wife died – and there are still (it seems) a million and one ‘things’ of hers that need to be moved on. She liked to collect all manner of ‘things’. Whatever they were, there were (are) always too many of them to fit into our small ‘modern cottage’. Not only were the common areas of the house full-to-bursting, so was the attic too. And only towards the end of her life did she finally stop, sometimes, to ask herself: “Do I really need this?” Or, more often: “Tooty says the loft is full; do I have anywhere to put this?”

I can’t imagine how many items I have passed on to charity since then – but it’s lots. Multiple car-loads. And still it keeps coming. Most of her books are now sitting on complete stranger’s shelves; but a few – the oldest tomes – are still here. This is one of them…

It’s a slim volume that was first published in 1937. This is a later copy from 1949.  At 108 pages it’s hardly exhaustive, and wouldn’t really do as a proper reference book. But the flowers are beautifully drawn and painted, so really it’s an art book. On the inside cover this appears…

Clearly it was gift – from someone I will never meet, to someone else I will never meet (unless in the afterlife). In one of my often melancholy moods this made me feel a little sad. I wondered who these people were, and what happened to them. Then, as I turned the brittle pages – many of which are coming away from the dried-out spine – I found this…

One day, after receiving this gift, the recipient carried this book with (her?) and decided to collect specimens, which (she?) pressed between the relevant pages. Here is a sample of Chicory from rural Britain circa the early 1950s.

And here is some Corn-Cockle…

Lastly comes the Cuckoo Flower…

The absence of any more samples suggests that only one expedition was undertaken. But, perhaps for just one foray into the countryside, this book was precious to it’s owner. Precious enough for it to have survived and pass through any number of hands since that day. It certainly caught my wife’s eye and has survived her. So what do I do with it now? What we leave behind comes in many forms – not all of them with physical properties such as this book. They are little pieces of us: pieces that cannot die. For now I will keep this on my bookshelf. But it (the book) has nothing to do with my wife: she was only ever a custodian. Eventually (through charity shops or auction) I will probably pass it on to someone else that I will never meet: and they will wonder who the two names on the inside cover belonged to, and they will find the pressed flowers. And maybe they will add to them.

Make of This What You Will

During the weeks since my wife passed over, there have been occaisionally hints that she is still around. The first came on the day of her death. Our dogs…

…had kept a vigil beside her bed until eventually driven out by all the care and health workers who attended to her night and day. They moved to the top of the stairs, where they could keep an eye on her. But upon her passing they returned to their beds in the living room. Then, in the early evening they suddenly galloped up the stairs; rushed into the room; stood upon their back legs, and took turns to study her lifeless face. Apparently satisfied with what they saw, they returned downstairs and have never returned. Both are perfectly happy – which suggests to me that they are aware of her presence in the house and feel no loss. They were  devoted to her – their favourite human – but neither has pined in the least. But, more impressively, on the same day (and half-way into the following day too), my daughter (who has speech and language problems amongst her multifarious woes) abruptly expanded her vocabulary by something in the order of a thousand percent; began speaking clearly and concisely; and eased my burden by giving advice on subjects that hitherto she knew next-to-nothing – including financial. When, a couple of weeks later, I mentioned this to her, she had no memory at all of that time period. Another example came a few days later, at a time when I was feeling desperately low. I was awoken one morning by a kiss upon my forehead. I was alone, so knew exactly who it was, and felt much better for the rest of the day. Then (so I’m told, because I didn’t witness this myself) on the day of her funeral she took another opportunity display her talents.  As my son, daughter and I were about to leave for the crematorium, I felt a sudden need to return to our bedroom and pick up the solar-powered Hula Girl that danced happily in the sunshine during my wife’s  final weeks. ‘She’ looked exactly like this…

Prior to the service, I had the Funeral Director place Hula Girl upon her casket. Thoughtfully he noticed a beam of sunlight striking the casket lid, so placed Hula Girl in it – where she shimmied throughout proceedings. As a cheerfull way to end the service, the Celebrant suggested an up-beat song that reflected Linzi’s chosen profession – a song about a dancer of course. I agreed to Barry Manilow’s Copacabana. I’m told that no sooner did the latin beat begin, Hula Girl’s gentle shimmy transformed into a manic dance. “She went crazy.” is how it was described. And those who saw it were left in no doubt who was responsible. If I had seen it myself, I probably wouldn’t have sent Hula Girl into the furnace with the casket. When I learned this, I immediately bought a replacement Hula Girl. She had to be identical. When she arrived in the post I placed her beneath a table lamp, where she began to shimmy. Then, to my Echo Dot I said: “Alexa: play Copacabana by Barry Manilow.” But I took what happened next as an etheral slap on the wrist. As the music struck up, instead of going bananas, Hula Girl stopped abruptly, and refused to move. I understood in a second, and so stopped the music. We, the living, cannot and should not influence those on ‘the other side’.  But it didn’t put her off me. Recently I awoke to the smell of her favourite Ellie Saab perfume. Then this morning (12/Nov/2020) something quite remarkable happened. At around six in the morning I was apparently awoken by her voice as she read something to me – as she often did, even if I wasn’t much interested. When I rolled over and opened my eyes I became aware of two things: daylight entered the room through open curtains: and Linzi was propped up upon her pillows and reading from (I presumed) her iPad. I had to speak her name three times before she heard me and stopped talking. Reason took over. Linzi’s remains were in a small box in the living room: this had to be a dream.  But that didn’t stop me from asking her: “Is this real? Is this real?” As if in reply, I woke up properly. It was six in the morning: it was only half-light – some of which entered the room through a central gap in the curtains, which, for some reason, since her death, I must have. It’s silly, but I get scared without it. But, by that light, I saw her – still seated beside me. She looked directly at me; leaned forward quickly; and kissed me gently upon the lips. Then, as I stared in hope and disbelief, she simply faded away – revealing the curtains that she had obscured only a moment before.  “Damn”. I snapped in frustration. For a moment she had been tangible. She had existed there, beside me. But, for whatever reason, she couldn’t stay. I couldn’t ask or tell her anything. But she knows I love her; and she obviously still loves me. And despite my tears as I write this, I’ve had a wonderful day. And I wonder what her next trick will be. I just hope that wasn’t a swansong.I don’t think so. She’ll be back. Time means nothing over there.

P.S I suppose it’s no surprise that she didn’t look old or haggard in my vision. Age and infirmity clearly have no place over there either. Of course I have no photo that can match what I saw this morning; but this one comes as close as any…

Any thoughts?