I was going to write another piece for my blog post – infact it is written already and will be my next blog post – its a little saucy, a little rude, and amused me to write it, but it will have to wait until next time.
I have something to write about that is far more pressing. And it’s not about ironing, you’ll be pleased to hear.
It’s about death. And love.
Those two powerful experiences in life. Because death is a part of life, a huge part of it.
I went to a funeral yesterday, and experienced it full on.
I would have happily (if that’s the right choice of word) gone on my own, I’ve been to enough of them over the years, my mother comes from a large family so its been quite normal for me to attend family funerals over the years, and its not something I shy away from, infact I find them (and you’ll probably think me strange to say this)Â uplifting. Because I always say that there is more love at a funeral than there is at a wedding. Everyone is there because of the person who has died, because of the impact they have had on us, and a funeral is a way of acknowledgingÂ that effect, and for showing that you want to celebrate the life they have lived, rather than the fact they have died. I feel that it’s a positive thing, sad asÂ it inevitably is.
The day was a strange one for me as well, because the funeral was held in the village where I grew up, infact it was in the church I got married in many years ago. But I am divorced now. So, that made my companion for the day even stranger – as it was my ex- husband. We both have other loves in our lives now, but can be in each others company in mutual pleasantness, although we are both aware that we have moved on, physically, emotionally, and mentally. It made sense for us both to go together, since we both knew the chap whose funeral it was, although I’ve known him a lot longer as we wereÂ from the same Derbyshire village.
I had expected the funeral to be well attended, since Nigel was a popular guy, always with friends around him in the pub, and happy to help others with problems. My ex and I sat towards the back of the church, having got there 25 mintues early, way too early I had expected butÂ the bulk of the pews full even at that point, and still more people came in, some of whomÂ I recognised from my past. A chap I went to junior school with, one of my mothers friends well in her 80’s now, the elder sister of my best friend at school, guys who had worked with Nigel, and lads (now grey haired men in their fifties) who had grown up with him. More and more came in, filling the church, 200 the vicar said when he stood at the lecternÂ to speak, and he should know.
The family, understandably, were upset. They had lost a son, and no parents should bury their child, its not the way of the pattern of life, we all hope. The fact he’d died in his early 50’s made it unfair, and the fact it was a car accident made it deeply so. So sudden. So difficult to comprehend.Â Â So, bloody raw.
His mother and father, sister and her family were all there, grieving. But so was his ex-wife, and his step daughter. They loved him as much as his blood family. His ex-wife, like me and my ex, still had a bond, and a form of love between them.
The older you get, the more you realise that there are different types of love.Â Some more difficult to explain than others!
The funeral was asÂ I had expected, his best friend stood to speak the eulogy, describing aspects of the giving side of Nigel’s personality, offers of good practical help to anyone who needed it, no matter if he knew them well, or only for a short time. He’d be there, and the job would get done quicker because of his help and expertise. He will be missed, by so many, as was shown by the many people who were there that day.
After the service, we all came out, blinking into the bright and blinding sunshine, on that cold but sunny day, milling around outside, a few tears still unshed for him, men I know so well in suits (never seem before by me since I know them as jeans and jumper men), black tie, and white shirts. The badge of respect for the dead.Â And I got the chance to speak to some of themÂ “How do you know Nigel?”Â I enquired of faces I knowÂ – “I used to work with him” being the most common reply.
We all shuffled on, to greet the family. What do you say to his mother? I’ve not seen her for many years, I’ve not lived in that village for just over thirty years now. I shook her hand and said her name then said “I’m Jackie Adshead” so that she would remember and she replied “The artist?” and I smiled gently at her, knowing she remembered, and said a heartfelt platitude to her, for the loss of her son. What else can you do? Anything you say won’t be enough to describe in any depth the emotion you’re feeling, or certainly the one she is, as his mother. His father just clung on to my hand, sobbing. There was nothing I could say to him, except hold his hand tightly, and show with the tears in my eyes, and the look on my face, that I knew what he was going through. Nothing. Then, onto Nigel’s ex-wife, a good friend of mine, I’ve known her many years, and have so many diverse connections in my life with its astonishing. And hugged her tight. She was in a better state than I had expected, and she held herself with dignity, although I know how much she will miss him in her life.Â
We all went on to the venue chosen by the family for us all to have food and sit and chat in a social setting. Another strange choice as far as I was concerned – since it was where we had had our wedding reception, my husband me me, now ex-husband, who was standing next to me, as we ate our sandwiches, and drank cups of tea, and chatted to various faces we knew, mostly together, but not always. We left together, which wasn’t surprising, since I had picked him up, and I also dropped him off, back at the house that I used to live at, but don’t any more. He thanked me for the lift, and kissed my cheek, and I said, and I meant it, “I’ve enjoyed being with you today”. I drove off, and thought about my day as I drove back to my house. I’d spent a few hours with my ex-husband and we’d been companionable and pleasant together. I’d been to the funeral of someone I’d known for many years, and his ex-wife had been there in acknowledgment of the bond they had had together for many years. Many self-employed people had given up their working day to be there, all for one man. That’s an accolade isn’t it? Nigel would have loved it. But Nigel wasn’t there, anymore. We’ll all miss him in our own way, however we knew him. And we are all enriched because he was in our lives.
My job, after I got in, got changed from black skirt, black sweater, black boots, and black coat, into jeans and a casual top, was to resume the watercolour painting I am working on, for Stuart. Stuart has lived 22 years longer than Nigel has had the chance to do, and hopefully will live many more long years, with the full quality of life he enjoys. The painting is a celebration of his life, featuring him, and the various things that have been a huge part of the rich tapestry ofÂ what makes up himÂ – both in work, and in his leisure time. I am happy with the way its going, its looking good, and I’m in good painting mode, which will help it all pull together even better.Â And as I picked up my paint brush, and started to mix the watercolours, radio on to accompany me, I looked back on the big day I had had, and I felt the lvoe that I had experienced. And hope to put some of that love into the art I was working on.
When my man came in aÂ few hoursÂ later on, knowing the day I had had ahead of me when he left this morning, he looked enquiringly at me, and asked how it had gone. “Good!” I said, and he raised an eye-brow at me in disbelief. And I explained……………………..