Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Permanently Deleted

Rambling so apologies
Two Funerals.
Half term.
I love a leisurely start to the day.
Curling stretching in my nest of a bed. Listening to the headlines at 6 a.m. and smugly relishing the fact that I don’t have to jump on that early morning treadmill of chores, making lunch, rousing son, feeding cat etc etc ... padding downstairs to make tea and taking it back to bed.
I have done all of the above , but this morning I have to write some memories of my Aunt who died last week for the Minister who will be officiating at her funeral. He doesn't know her, in fact has never met her or any member of my family, so I really hope I can somehow prĂ©cis her 93 years of life into an acceptably short  enough  (for him) memoir so that he can compose something relevant to say in Church.
She was a church goer. She was a lot of things before her failing health 7 years ago required her to sell up and move into a residential home.
This place was as close to Agatha Christie’s Bertrams Hotel as I am ever going to encounter in real life.
 Genteel. Only 16 lady residents, proper dining room, sherry before Dinner and not a whiff of wee!
She loved it here. Enjoyed being bathed and talced. Found no indignity in this kind of care. In fact, saw it as no more out of the ordinary than the things she had done for her nieces as children, it was now just her turn.
 Three years ago, due to failing faculties she moved to a nursing home. This place reminded me of a large real life (old)dolls house, where the inmates residents were got up, washed and tidied , dressed, fed, aired,  fed ,washed and put to bed only to start all over again next morning. 
On my last visit, indeed her last visit , when she appeared peacefully asleep, but was in fact slipping away due to a combination of old age morphine and recent surgical assault, one of her carers , a young girl showed me a picture on her phone of herself and Peg. They were both grinning broadly , the girl hugging Peggy close to her  and I felt eternally grateful that she had been well looked after.
In my writing for the Minister I tried to convey all that Peggy had done for us, the small family whose father had died all those years ago. How  after a days work  Aunty Peggy would feed and take care of two small girls  and put them to bed, while their mother worked a twilight shift in a factory, the only work she could fit in with home life.
Peggy had no children, and her beloved husband is dead, so there is no one left to send sympathy cards to. No one to confirm favourite songs, colours or films. In my memoir for the Minister, I hope I have conveyed enough of the woman who liked foreign holidays, designer clothing, jewellery and Hello magazine who also always put family first.

Last half term, my daughters and I went to funeral.
The 41 year old woman in question had been suffering from a brain tumour and had very sadly come to the end of her journey. She had been both daughters dance teacher from when they were tiny until they went to university. None of us had seen her for almost 10 years, but when the news came, we all felt we had to go to her funeral
She had been an enormous part of our family's life for so many years. First as a graceful, long limbed teen who helped with the younger children at the dance school. Then as a teacher, when she took over the running of the School.
 Very calm and patient she generated an aura when she danced. Her movements were so beautiful, so measured. My daughters adored her; they hung on her every word as small children and came to admire her as they grew up. They spent all of their Saturdays with her plus Monday evenings  and also  helped with Summer Schools and Concerts ,  for more than 18 years.
 I look back on those times, when the most serious thing we ever did was prepare for a ballet exam, as some of the most precious in our family life.
Her funeral was unusual. She never married and lived with her widowed mother, who seemed to be her closest friend. Her dogs, huge great dignified St Bernards, led the coffin in. A coffin covered in pictures of a meadow. Many dogs were in the Church and at quiet times in the service all I could hear was the panting of those comforting animals.
Many past pupils attended the service, little girls, now grown , with degrees in Fine Art, Chemistry, English , Photography, name it they went on to study it.
 But they still valued that time when as small children they all came together and danced

 The Darling Son has been playing a game called Diabolo 3. I don’t know if you have heard of it, I certainly wouldn't have if I didn't live with 22 year old gamer.
It is apparently enormously popular. I can’t give you any stats relating to this game cos I can’t really be arsed to look em up, just take my word for it, it is a huge worldwide online role playing game.
Darling son has periodically been calling me up to his room to, look at his character, marvel at his progress and skills etc etc, (see previous post ‘ holding the wire’ ) and the other day, he showed me what happens if you choose to play in Hardcore Mode. In this mode your carefully created character is 'mortal' in the sense that,  it is not possible to have any save points in the game and when it dies it dies!! All you have won or gained with said character in this mode will disappear. You will never be able to play using it again and it will appear in your list of characters as a grey robed figure. Apparently in this mode, the game is better, more rewarding, more edgy, more real!!!
 There is a warning before you hit the button to play in Hardcore Mode that advises that once a hardcore character dies it can never be played again. Customer Service cannot revive any Character lost when using this mode ...(this tells me they have had calls).
 Your Character is Permanently Deleted!
We laughed about this, but my son did say that he could imagine that after spending many hundreds of hours (yes horrified reader hundreds...), he could imagine the rage and frustration that would erupt if your hardcore character died, especially if it was due to an internet connection problem outside of your control.
 It got me thinking...


  1. Touching memories... I had an Auntie Peggy - lovely, lovely woman I don't think I ever heard her have a bad word about anyone, honestly not once. She never married and stayed at home with my Nan, and there on her own afterwards. She had a stroke and died some years back in her 70s. Her estate was so little I didn't even need probate to wind it up. But she had still bought my son (who was about 4) the expensive Lego pirate ship he'd asked for and I'd said was too much. A woman who only gave never took - sadly missed.

    1. I think its a testament to generations of the past that family commitment meant so much, shared responsibilities and family lives were enough. No thought of 'me time'!
      They had their own sadness and loss and on the whole things are better now but...

  2. A lovely thoughtful post.
    We have suffered from mysterious internet outages a few times, odd that.

    1. Our outages are mainly due to the lovely Mr Branson , but also to overselling of games and not providing enough server resource to cope with demand. But i do wonder if soon, connection failure will be viewed as a serious failure of supplier, much like we would view an interruption in the flow of Gas or Electricity

  3. funerals are strange things to attened ....a joyous celebration of a life well lived, a farewell too soon to someone too young, the comfort of others who have also lost.... a reminder perhaps that one is not permanently deleted....

  4. what a lovely thought! Well my sister and I wouldn't be here as we are if it wasn't for Aunty Peggy's efforts
    We do try to keep memories alive in our family , we love a good reminisce and re-telling of events gone bye.
    After the funeral tomorrow i have things to look forward to , darling son in a play and a wedding on Friday onward and upward