Friday, March 11, 2011

Time To Say Goodbye





REMAINS OF THE DAY: RALPH'S LAST TUNES

shot and processed iPhone 3GS




FOLLOWING SYLVIE HOME

shot iPhone 3GS, processed iPad




DARK MATERIALS

shot and processed iPhone 3GS

The past month has been a time of saying goodbye in the most final of ways. On February 18th, my family gathered in a tiny Welsh chapel to sing "The Old Rugged Cross" and pay our last respects to the memory of my mother's "baby" sister Sylvia.
Because her mum was a passionate supporter of the Llanelli Rugby team who are also known as "The Scarlets", my cousin Ann, Sylvie's only daughter, dressed for the funeral in a beautiful Red Trench Coat: a bright and fitting tribute to the most sweet-natured women I've ever known: always smiling, never complaining, despite suffering considerable disability due to Diabetes. What none of us, including Auntie Sylvie, knew until just before she died, was that she was also suffering from Cancer.

Last Wednesday, we said goodbye to my wonderful "father-in-law" Ralph who, for several years, had been putting up a brave fight against Prostate Cancer. Ralph was a shy man of many talents, not least of which were his skills as a Magician. We wanted the funeral to be a celebration of his life, so
Mollie, my "mum-in-law" wore black "but only because he liked me in the colour" with touches of red and white, to match the silks they used in their magic act. In remembrance of Ralph's happy National Service Days in Hong Kong, we chose a bamboo casket, adorned with flowers that were white with touches of red and black. My partner Michael made the broken wand that traditionally sits atop the funeral casket of a magician and travels with him to the grave. Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" greeted us as we entered the crematorium for the committal and we smiled, knowing that Ralph would be pleased we hadn't chosen anything solemn and sad.

As I write this, Tinky, our little, old cat, is sleeping on the garden bench. For several days now, she has hardly moved, eaten or drank. Every so often, I stoke her for a while and whisper that I love her, but she's an independent little soul and it's quite clear that she wants to die in her own way: quietly and with as little fuss as possible. For the third time in almost as many weeks, my heart is breaking and I cannot stop the tears, but I know one thing: our loved-ones are temporary gifts that we must cherish while we may, not just at life's end and by the grave-side. These "goodbyes" have reminded me
that life is short and precious. It seems only yesterday that I was thanking my Auntie Sylvie for a fifteenth birthday gift brought all the way from Hong Kong; meeting my lover's father for the first time; or sitting in a Summer garden, enchanted by the beautiful little tortoiseshell cat who had just jumped over the garden fence to say "hello". My Nan used to say "We only pass this way once" and when the pain has passed, I really do have to try to get on with my life, despite all its challenges.

8 comments:

Suzanne said...

So sorry for your losses. Thinking of you x

Dyche Designs said...

Initially I was drawn to the haunting beauty in your images and then I found myself sat here with tears running down my cheeks as I learned off the losses you've experienced recently.

Having lost close loved ones I know the kind of pain that comes with saying goodbye.

Thinking of you and your family as I send a virtual hug across the miles.

Anonymous said...

As ever my heart is with you & also the small little torteshell puss xx

magpie said...

so sorry for so much loss.
sending love and good thoughts

Lesley B. said...

Such losses beautifully written and poignant images

pondlife said...

I haven't passed this way for a while, and am glad I did just to say that time makes the loss a little easier to bear.

And also to see some of your fabulous images. But HOW do you do it?

I don't have an iPhone so can't imagine the effects you can get with it, but my new Leica might help achieve something.

Love and best wishes

Pondlife

deb said...

A beautiful heartfelt tribute. The love you have for them just weaves its way through this post, and we all are blessed to have this in our lives
and its always too soon to lose it. It changes and it moves on but it will always be in out hearts to reach out and touch when we need it. Animals are a gift too soon taken away but oh the joy and warmth while we have them make it all worth it. hugs

Seth said...

So sorry for your losses. Thinking of you!