Some people enter your life with a burst and a bluster before leaving just as fast. Other people pop in now and again throughout your years and conversations carry on from before. Yet there are those who glide in and, with the precision of a surgeon, take your heart with gentle fingers and never release it from there grasp.
Even when their physical life ends.
Aunty M was like the latter.
She has left two people floating around the house, on this hot Tuesday after her funeral, like ghosts trying to be.
Why wouldn’t they feel at a loss when, for the last year, everyday was planned around the dearly departed.
It almost feels deceitful to plan a future without the warm eyes of Aunty M smiling up in at least one of the hours of the day.
But, we have to. She wouldn’t want stagnation.
I was supposed to say my goodbyes yesterday. The words below are my eulogy to a gorgeous lady. But I think it will take a damn sight more days than one to let her go.
A Eulogy For Aunty M. By The Case.
I hope you will all bare with me if I begin to sweat and stammer like a politician taking part in a game of truth or dare, but, it’s only because the cheeky monkey we are here to honour has done the unthinkable and made me feel and care.
Which frankly is rather ruddy rude.
But that was Aunty M’s blessed gift, wasn’t it?
To me, she was never Mrs Golding, or the Queen Margaret she was to become to the amazing staff and other residents within her last four walls.
She is and will always by my Aunty M.
Of course, Aunty M was not my Aunty by blood, but woe betide anyone who dared upset her.
Not that anyone would.
For the very reason I worked out from our first meeting that New Year’s Eve so long ago.
The quality she carried, which struck me then and had never wavered from her persona, despite her declining health, was that she didn’t have a bad word to say about anyone. Or indeed anything.
I despise the overuse of the word “literarily”, but I am unable to literally remember one occasion when Aunty M befouled, besmirched, or even so much as bespattered another human being’s character. It just wasn’t in her.
In a world of social media judgemental juganauts espousing the belief that one must without delay pile-drive forward, spouting every vile thought that comes to mind, tottered a quirky little lady who had respect for everyone she met.
Not that she wasn’t a cheeky little monkey sometimes, mind.
The way she walloped the fish and chips down every Friday afternoon made us giggle. Her little gums grinding away the batter ten to the dozen as her eyes bulged and widened in unbridled joy.
And she had no problems in telling you when the kettle was boiling at coffee time.
Then, when the correct ratio of coffee to milk was achieved, we sat and talked classical music or watched Homes Under the Hammer and The Chase and we laughed…and laughed.
At the end she probably had little idea why she laughed, but she appreciated our silly attempts to illicit a smile nonetheless. With her ready supply of gentle cliches: her ‘eh, you never know what’s gonna happen next’ and ‘eh, he’s a case.’
Yes, she had her later difficulties. But losing loving dance partner and husband, George, and beloved sisters, Eileen and Joan, brought a lot of that on and took its eventual toll on her will to exist on this side of the spiritual barrier I suspect, from our conversations.
The tales of dancing with George, when he called her special, and her childhood growing up in Burnley with Joan and Eileen were played and replayed through many hours of stories and photographs.
The sadness hidden by a soft smile for each.
Though mention the fact that any of her nieces were coming to see her and she had the capacity to fight death itself. The anticipation inside her creating a light of joy which burst from her eyes and burned the darkness from any vacuum.
She, for instance, waited, at her stubborn best, for niece, Leila’s, visit before preparing herself for her final journey.
Now, I am not a religious man but I also know the time Diane spent with her, praying, the day before she passed, will have filled her with much joy. And I firmly believe her passing was made comfortable by the last three: Lesley, Feesa and Mina who played musical chair hand holding to Classic FM the whole of her last day, as they filled the room to bursting with precious memories of a wonderful family.
Why do I think this?
Seconds after Aunty M had passed, Lesley’s astute ears picked up on a piece you will hear later which had started playing on the radio, almost as if George was welcoming her back to his arms and telling her to “get in,”
I’m sure Aunty M would also be excited to see her sisters and thank Joan for all her care and love she offered before she herself sadly passed.
Aunty M did get the chance to thank Mina for the many times she finished an hectic 13 and half hour A&E shift and then ran over to care for her and blind her with the flash of the camera.
Aunty M beamed at selfie time, though always made out she was doing it for Mina.
Lastly, let us not forget the brilliant staff at Victoria House: Sue, Claire and Sam to say a few, and her good friend Marjorie. They made her last months pass with smiles and comfort.
As I mentioned, I am from the outside looking in and I have to say that I recognise from my time with Aunty M how blessed she felt to have each of you in her life.
And I feel truly blessed to have had her in mine.
The Poet Emily Dickinson once wrote: unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality.
Aunty M will forever live on in my heart.
Sleep well, beautiful lady.