Death isn’t a subject I’ve written all that much about on this blog. But even if it took her a very long time (best part of a decade since her diagnosis with dementia) to get there, as these things go Mum had, and continues to have, a good one.
The funeral is this Friday, May 14 2021, Covid-capped at just 30 attendees, and Aud is going out in the style she had wished.
Captured above in a joint 60th birthday pic a quarter century ago with sisters Elspeth (in the middle) and Phyl (on the right, and Mum’s identical-yet-comprehensively-different twin), Mum and her sisters always had, shall we say, an idiosyncratic take on life.
Which included in the twins’ case plans plans to be ferried out of this earthly life when the time came in painted cardboard coffins.
Phyl being a professional artist, and Aud being incredibly skilled at drawing cartoons and the natural world, these two did complete the project probably 30 years ago now.
Mum’s lasted a few years, but eventually gave up its own ghost after being parked quietly in the attic of her Sheringham home on the North Norfolk coast as storage for old scripts for the annual performance of the Smugglers Children’s drama group at the local Little Theatre.
Phyl’s coffin too went AWOL years ago, so when her own time came in 2019, like Mum after many years’ decline with dementia (the genes will out, though hers was a much more rapid early descent), she was buried in slightly more conventional fashion in a woodland site near her home in Oxford.
Well, with thanks to Aud’s local grand- and great-grandchildren, with a bit of help from myself and Jutta, Mum at least (not yet contained within, but, as great-granddaughter Genovieve put it as the project was concluded at the undertakers on Saturday, “in the fridge”) has hers readied for the final journey.
We don’t (on the whole, yet) have a choice about when or how we die. But we absolutely can choose how our death is marked once we go.
And as the Dalai Lama says – and as I often remind myself and my psychotherapy clients – it’s good in a sense to prepare for one’s death every single day. Since if I am ready – realistically, of course, and within the bounds of what’s possible – for a good death, then I can with luck and application have a good life.
Aud certainly did, as she reminded us a year ago with one of her last-ever glasses of the red wine she so loved.
Cheers Mum. In four days’ time, the box below is your carriage to the crem and thence to be rendered as ashes.
Enjoy the ride.