It has been, as they say, a strange old time of late. A time of endings and new beginnings, of sadness but acceptance and of getting on with life without someone, my wife’s mum Nancy, who has been such a part of it for nearly three decades. Her funeral service was a celebratory affair with much reminiscing of a long life from among her family and friends, stretching back four generations. As, in a more intimate setting, was the wake afterwards in the house to which she and her husband, Don, moved 17 years ago. It was where she wanted to spend her last day as, indeed, she did. These things can never be anything but sad occasions; they can, however, be positive ones as this one certainly was. In this it reflected Nancy’s own unending positivity.
Her family did what families do on this occasion; that is to get the house ready for visitors and sort out Nancy’s effects. Getting on with the practical things which help you to put the emotions to the back of the mind. However, as Gaynor, my wife, described it, these come in waves over which you have no control. They do subside only to return, unbidden, when the mind had nothing to occupy it. The effect is to leave you very tired, drained in fact. The whole thing is somewhat surreal as the rest of the world carries on unaware. In this I am reminded of a favourite Skeeter Davis song that can always bring me to tears with its lyric:
I wake up in the morning and I wonder
Why everything’s the same as it was.
I can’t understand, no, I can’t understand
How life goes on the way it does.
As indeed, it does. Amid the usual hurly burly, however, there must be the time to grieve for those directly affected. Much of the time, as we all do, they will manage. Those nearest and dearest to them, though, will need to watch out for the little signs of those waves building up. Not always easy when those concerned are doing their best not to show their feelings. Fortunately, I’ve discovered empathy over the last few years so I’m now much more aware than the male version of Saga Noren that I tended to act as if I was.
On the positive side where Nancy always lived, Xmas is almost upon us and a new year beckons. One in which Gaynor and I plan to take our work in new directions and in which our daughter will be hoping to start her MA. So there are new beginnings that we can all look forward to and that’s surely no bad thing.