I am in a reflective mood today. I have flowers to arrange for a funeral tomorrow, and I am, in consequence, contemplating mortality.
I didn't know David well, and not at all before senile dementia began its stranglehold over his life, which it slowly, agonisingly, robbed him of. But when I first met him, he could still follow the Mass, read the hymns from the hymnal, and hold his place in the small informal choir of the church I was about to join.
Soon, I was finding the hymns for him and watched, helpless, at his confusion because what he was looking at, made no sense to him. Later, he took to wandering the streets, unable to remember who or where he was. Sheltered housing followed, then when he became aggressive, a secure hospital: there was nothing recognisable then, of the man who'd built up the church, who was known for his gentleness and his generosity.
Don't ask me today, if I believe in God, or of a benign purpose to the Universe. I don't like the answer I would give you.
Here's the entry from my Online Diary that preceded this blog.
6th June 2009: David's Lilies
It is tipping down with rain. Steady, heavy, unmitigatingly wet; possibly the heaviest and most sustained rainfall of the year.
Di 'phoned to say that David has some lilies to put in the sanctuary. 'Oh Good, I won't have to buy any flowers this week!'
I balanced a collecting bag, secateurs and an umbrella and cut some supporting greenery: rushes to give height, japanese anemone leaves for weight and bulk and some scented lemon balm to fill. As an afterthought, I picked a length of hop vine for twirl.
I drove through town to David's house and caught him smoking in the potting shed. I've come for the lilies,' I said. David was very pleased to see me. He is a bit forgetful these days, which at ninety he is entitled to be, but by a lttle judicious waving of the secateurs he quickly grasped my errand.
Last year he'd called someone, on-one knows who, who had collected his lilies and disappeared with them, not having quite understood their purpose, apparantly. David had been most upset when they'd consequently failed to appear in church.
He waved me over to a distant patch where I could see quite distinclty through the curtain of rain that there were FOUR blooms. Four.
With a log, a drape, some ladies mantle and white campanula to say nothing of the hop vine and lemon balm I created a passable arrangement that is a esoteric fusion of classical piety and an exhuberant wilderness. I sincerely hope it lasts, and that David is pleased with it!
Marylyn died in October 2008. I was privilidged to be by her side in the hospital when the respirator was turned off and she slipped peaceably away from us.
She was just 70 years old, no age these days. Her last words were, 'Make it a good one.' when someone offered to pray for her. I'm sure it was.
Marylyn wasn't conventionally religious, she was just good. She gave herself up in the service of others and was always loving, smiling and THERE.
Although she was my first cousin, we were raised more like sisters because our mothers were very close. She was fifteen years older than me and she showered love and affection on me from as far back as I can remember.
Because I spend far too much time thinking of myself, part of my grief at Marylyn's passing was this thought - she was the last person alive who held me as a baby, who could speak to me of my childhood, who could share memories of my parents.
Fifty years ago today, she married Geoffrey Purveur, whom I also loved. I was a eight years old and a bridesmaid. I wore blue and carried sweet peas.
My best friend. This is her anniversary. She died on this day in 1992, aged 64. She is now in heaven, free from the pain that afflicted her twisted body, of which she rarely complained. I suspect she is praying for me; she'll know I need it.
She used to plan her funeral to the last detail until the day she said, 'I always want to be in control, even of my own funeral! - well not any more. Do what you want!'
I picked her wild flowers from the wasteland behind our estate and wreathed them in ribbons. I read from Romans Chapter 12 and I cried buckets.