Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Snippets & Funerals





A subject at work sparked my imagination to life again. Earlier this morning I slightly niggled about what my next Blog title would be as I started feeling some worry tiptoeing to the fragile edges of my creative mind. It would pester me in the form of "fear" of the sort that is called a "mental-block" that befalls us poor creatures from time to time, which covers the soul like an empty and static black hole...

Words certainly can slip through the fingers like loose sand and I tried gripping sudden imaginary words and beginnings of rambles tightly as they came and went today. They got entwined with memories and so I got to the point where I remembered why I have come to view funerals in a completely different light than most others. My idea of it these days is something rather different from the "olden days" view of black and black and ... If I may, I'd like to compare funerals to something such as The Aureoles Borealis which doesn’t occur very often, happens only in certain parts of the globe, never exactly in the same way and not viewed by many in this world in quite the same kind of light.

How I started thinking of this topic today was that a work-related subject revolved around “Reunion” which is in Southern Africa - an island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar. They speak French there.

During a Web search a topic line of “a reunion with warm handshakes” appeared and steered my thoughts towards the Inner Hebrides on the west coast of Scotland. I headed past Glenelg on mainland and over the Shiel Bridge which had cause so much controversy over to Skye. Skirted around the corners of the Red- and Black Cuillins, Portree and onto a single track road leading past Loch Braccadale, Balgowan and Struan Village and reached Dunvegan - an extraordinary little village in these rugged western parts of Skye.

After dwelling there, my attention skidded to a news bulletin on the radio next to me. It was about Great Britain commemorating the end of World War II on the 11th of the 11th month, 90 years ago precisely. Twenty million people died during this time. I had no idea! The only surviving British veterans were honored during a ceremony in London today.

On 11 November 2005 we stood watching under a dull gray sky an emotional but subdued ceremony take place next to the Walter Scott monument in Edinburgh. The monument is otherwise known as the “Rocket” of Edinburgh. People stood in final salute to the war veterans – some clustered together as a family and others as single individuals paying their respects. The picturesque city was still littered with plastic red poppies a few weeks on...

Not this reminds me of an elderly lady, Katherine Lindsay-MacDougall who will be 93 on the 26th of December 2008. A brave woman, who used to wear tartan skirts, went teaching with a friend in Africa and finally ran a B&B in the village “Ardfern” near Oban in Argyllshire. She had lost her father in WW I and a brother named John who she so loved during WW II. He was buried in Naples. I took her to the Kilvari graveyard sometimes; this is where most of her family rests.

Earlier this week friend Tobias wrote about the BBC who had the honor to include his mother in a documentary revolving around survivors of the WW II. Her father used to be a commander who was very much against the fact that she joined the services and drove ambulances across France...Moira was very frail at the time of the interview however and died before she could see it on TV or tape.

Her funeral service was held at the Dunvegan village church and the funeral goers came together at the Old School House Restaurant after her burial on the windy slopes of a hill. This was my first introduction to how most of our European counterparts celebrate the joy of life and deceased loved ones. Delicious canap├ęs were served and to my absolute amazement alcohol as well! When we left, I noticed a warm glow on our and everybody else’ faces and whether that was from the raging fireplace or beverages I could not tell.

Far from heather-clad and eerie dark moors, in 2002, I attended another funeral of a rather stern but gentle elderly gentleman. Following Mr. Verey’s service in the English village Pangbourne, we headed back to his estate where a marques tent had been erected priory. Waiters were serving delicious champagne, wine and all sorts of consumables and even the dogs joined into celebrating the “mourning” of someone great.

It does worry me a little bit now that I won't have much say in the matter of my own funeral one day in a hopefully very distant future. I wonder if something could be arranged in this respect. Let's say have it executed while one is still alive, or state in bold black letters in a last Will that Tea & Biscuits and sad faces will absolutely be banned on such an occasion...

Better still to focus on the right here and right now - and survive life on a mesh of beautiful memories and keeping dreams alive...

1 comment:

Brother Tobias said...

A fine post, and moving picture. Not forgetting South Africa's 9,500dead in WWI, and 11,900 in WWII.