Maybe it’s the effect of watching the Queen’s casket progress slowly from Balmoral to Edinborough and then the precise, slow, disciplined ritual at Windsor. Yes, I admit to watching bits of it, not teary, but admiring and wondering . Throughout the last few weeks, in the midst of discussions for and against the monarchy and about colonialism and privilege, is a consensus : life is short. A cliche. A life well lived most of us concede . Then we look at our own. Of course, as we’re still alive, we find it wanting .
I am guilty, if it’s guilt and not just being human, of wanting. Not thanking enough.
Much of the shorter commentary in the last few weeks has understandably been around the brevity of all our lives. We question the worth of goals, work, activities, relationships in the context of a little life. We scrutinise our own identity again and ask “Do I really want to ? Should I? How can I be kind? What am I bringing into this life? How will I be remembered?”. In fact that very last self centred question is one of the half dozen or so ‘magic’ questioning tools in counselling. One of the other equally ridiculous questions is around the epitaph one would like on one’s grave.
As we at home put together another clearing effort : op shop/ bin/ Resource Centre, and a trailer on which to pile the larger broken and discarded items, I actually look around outside . Grumpily carrying another discarded item to the trailer, I see the flowers in the garden.Plants are flowering despite my inattention just because summer 🌺 is on its way.
But I’m digressing. The questions and thoughts have a use, and the main point is that funerals and age combine to flag our own imminent death . We know this always but live like we are immortal. Because we need to be in our lives not working our way towards it’s end.
Witnessing such a grand , fully ritualised celebration of a life highlights all the things above. Also for those of us who are older and/ or have a connection with England,with where we were born and family, there are memories of our own parents and family who have died . Maybe the memories surface anyway.
I think especially of my dad and my uncle who both served . I could go further back to a great grandfather who was in the Irish Guards, but it’s not the army or war that Is the key, nor the long chain of military service and tradition. It’s the marking of the end of an era.
My father and his younger brother were much loved. They were special people. But their qualities of self discipline, caring dutifulness, and , most particularly, a reticence, are not as present in my era. My father would never have written a blog, and certainly he would not have written like this. He was an immensely private person, sometimes annoyingly so .
They both loved gardens . A slip there and I wrote lived gardens : But that’s the connection – thankfulness, gardens, the funeral and the end of an era. Keep an eye on colour and beauty that’s here. Stop accumulating dead stuff.
In watching the Queens funeral procession I remember Arthur and Bill and those like them.
Let me be thankful for what is.