Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Farewell memories

Another full church at 'the Res' this morning for the funeral of a young man who came from a large extended family, whose members occupied half the available spaces. After I'd read out the tribute written by his mother, his partner gave a tribute in the form of a letter to the man she'd loved and accompanied through his terminal illness. She was very brave to have done so, for not only was she fighting back tears, but also, I noticed, trembling all over as she stood at the lectern. I wondered if she'd make it to the end, but sheer determination and courage saw her through. She didn't seem to be used to public speaking, but for his sake, she was tremendously brave in public, though not in a 'stiff upper lip' kind of way.

It started to rain as we lowered his coffin into the earth up at Western Cemetery, and I had to take shelter under the trees nearby while the mourners paid their respects. As well as earth and flowers cast on the coffin, I saw a Liverpool F.C. shirt and a club banner, plus half a dozen Liverpool supporters' club ties, which had been worn in church for the formalities of the day. One mourner cast a few cigarettes into the grave as he muttered his farewell - a unusual oblation I thought. Then, as I stood there, my mind rolled back forty years remembering my surprise at the sight of my dear friend Frank throwing his wedding ring into his young wife Barbara's grave, following her untimely death from a brain tumor, after just five years of marriage.  Funny, I hadn't thought about that for decades.

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