Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Family matters

Another day, another funeral. This time it was my cousin, Betty's, husband Freddie. He was 85 and had been struggling with leukemia but that doesn't get over the fact that he is no more and that he was a laugh and an absolutely devoted husband and father; and that he will be missed so much by his nearest and dearest.

That's what's been getting me at these funerals, I call them my funeral moments. I can't help but bawl when I think about my own demise and how much it will affect those closest to me. Just can't help it, it's too raw and open, sore and painful. I don't feel as if it will happen yet as I am feeling well, but the time will come. But sufficient to the day is the evil therof and so I brush away the tears and wipe on the smile, as much for myself as anyone else.

It was good to see the family though, bits of it I rarely ever see these days, only at funerals in fact. There was cousin Ann. I have no idea why I always refer to her as cousin Ann, it sounds like something from the hillbillies and her husband Brian, who is a dead ringer for Donald Sutherland. Cousin Ann was always held up as a model of virtue and blessedness by my mother because she ironed and sewed beautifully. She had neat plaits and was the first of our family to go to college, unless you count my Dad who at 14 went to Birmingham School of Art. Betty and her sister Joan, who was once the most glamorous woman on the planet, but now lies unable to function hardly at all due to Altzheimers, were 20 years older than me, at least, as I was the youngest child of the youngest child of my Nanny. So it was their children, Peter and Pam and Lou and Glen who I was nearest to in age. I hadn't seen Peter, Joan's son for years, since his grandmother's funeral in fact, but we fell back into an easy relationship and it felt good. Apart from Betty of course, that was it and we dwindle. There were only three of us there yesterday. From the dizzy heights of six children and nine grandchildren (not that dizzy on the grandchildren front actually) of my Nanny's brood we are down to six grandchildren, of which I am the youngest, and we hardly ever see each other.

I took along a few photos, as I have been ploughing through them to find subjects for my oeuvre, terrible burden to have an oeuvre, and it struck me that we will soon be losing the shared memory of our generation. It mostly stops about 40 years ago anyway as we all grew up and moved apart, but there are things I would like to ask my older cousins about what went on, who did what etc and I had better get a shake on as we are a bit prone to dementia and other memory taking conditions. I am going to try to be proactive about this and actually pick up the phone to arrange visits, says she, yes I am. They are family after all and it's all in the pursuit of my art, or should I say heart?


  1. If not now, when?

    My sister passed at 49 and shocked me into reality three years ago.

  2. Dear Stewart and family, so sorry to hear the news. We will be thinking of you lots, especially tomorrow. I have many happy memories of my time at NAHA/T with Jean. She was certainly an amazing person (plus only found out from your blog she could even finish the Times crossword - I enjoy attempting it and sometimes finish in several hours!). Love and best wishes from Susan Lancaster and Ken O'Brien (Cornwall)