Thursday, May 29, 2008

Closure

This post is more for me that my blog readers but in case you are interested the commemorative afternoon tea for my friend who died was a great success. Eighteen people in all gathered to remember him, while some colleagues from the Faculty of Pharmacy sent a lovely floral decoration which was a total surprise and took pride of place on the dining room table. I was too busy to take photos of the table set for tea, but the photo below was a collage put together by the "old scientist" for the event. They are photos from the time my friend was four years old until several years ago.


I used the photo on the bottom right for his obituary in the newspapers. In a suit, as almost always, looking relaxed and happy, I thought this represented him very well.

Almost everything now is in the hands of the trust company. All that remains of this family is in a small public storage locker and will be sold off, as were the contents of his house several years ago. Everything was carefully appraised and auctioned off and frankly it brought a very small amount of money in comparison to what it all had cost. Several things I bought myself since I knew that they meant something to him, especially his grandfather clock, which he carefully wound each week and kept in excellent working condition until his later years. I bought it for my son and we had it repaired and now it has pride of place in his home. He remembers it from when he was young and we used to visit my friend's house. I also bought a large oil seascape by a local artist which now hangs in my dining room. He loved this painting and I could bring myself to let it go to the auction.

The other day I gave the trust company officer his Rolex watch which somehow I ended up keeping for him. His initials are engraved on the back, which actually lowers its value quite remarkably, but this was his last personal possession. I put his framed degrees and framed awards in the storage locker and they too will be discarded along with the photos and the family bible. Almost every trace of my friend and his wife, who was my friend, will disappear.

We spend so much of our life acquiring things. But we can't take them with us and no one else values them the way we do. When we no longer have use for them they are discarded or sold to someone else for a song, to someone who sees only the bargain and not the special meaning this object had for us. I am realistic enough to realize that even my children will not value some of my possessions as I do. They are just things that appealed to me or someone, a treasured friend perhaps, gave to me and thus gave the item meaning. So that's why now I tell people, don't give me anything I have to dust, just consumables thank you. I already have too much stuff which will go for a song or into the landfill when I am gone.

So the above photo collage and the two photos below are all that are left of my two friends besides the items I mentioned.

My friend at 19, in 1943, in his RCAF uniform. The other is his wife, my dear friend, in her fifties. This photo usually hangs on my bedroom wall.

But I have one last thing left to do. When my friend's house was being cleared out of the "junk" we found his wife's ashes in a cupboard in the basement. I had no idea that he even had them. Now I have them and while my friend's ashes were taken care of by the funeral home, I still have this to take care of. I have decided that I will take them to the Botanical Gardens at the university and scatter them there. Both my friend and his wife were involved in the set-up of the Physick Garden there so it does have some meaning for them. I have checked and while it is not officially allowed they turn a blind eye and told me to come at the end of the day when there are few people about.

This is the last in the series of posts about my friend and his journey with Alzheimer's disease which I shared with him. Thank you for reading and my fervent wish is that may none of us be so afflicted.

16 comments:

Liz said...

I'm glad the tea went well. It sounded like a marvellous idea. I hope it will bring some sort of closure for you, and that, though you will remember your dear friends with love, you won't feel sad.

And what a beautiful thing to scatter your friend's wife's ashes in the garden of the university. How appropriate. And though they will be gone they will live on in your memories.

CherryPie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CherryPie said...

I am so glad everything went OK. What a beautiful idea to spread his wife's ashes in a garden, I can't think of a better place for them.

CherryPie said...

Sorry blogger went a bit funny on me, and the comment was duplicated.

leslie said...

What a lovely tribute to your friend. Seeing his RCAF photo made me wonder if my Dad ever knew him as he, too, was in the RCAF during the war. They would have been around the same age. I saw your friend's obit in the paper and thought he was a very handsome man and he certainly had a wonderful life worth commemorating. You were a great friend to him and to his wife and I commend you on all you did for them both. I agree, also, that we would not wish Alzheimers on anyone - as I saw my own dear mother deteriorate from it.

Carver said...

The tea was such a good idea and I'm glad to hear it went well. Beautiful idea to scatter the ashes of your friend's wife in the garden.

Crushed said...

It didn't dawn on me till you wrote that, but yes, I suppose it is the end of a an era in this blog as well. We've come to know your friend too.

He looks like he was a fairly strong, intelligent man in his day.

Calum said...

What are material possessions when put along side your love for this couple? This is what stays. You'll always have this.

Through your posts we have learned about your friends, about you and have been touched by your love for them.

Nunyaa said...

You have something that can never have monetary value JMB, you have an immeasurable wealth of memories.

Janice Thomson said...

How good to have closure JMB, and wonderful memories to carry in your heart forever. What a privilege to know such a compassionate and understanding soul - with a penchant for many pairs of shoes :) Bless you JMB.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Glad the tea went well. I am also glad that the Botanical Gardens authorities showed a human side rather than a bureaucratic one with regards to your request to scatter your friend's ashes there. A small act but so meaningful. I hope you will find closure jmb.

Moggs Tigerpaw said...

Oh JMB, How sad. The thought that something like a family bible, maybe with generations marked in it, could just loose all the added meaning they gave it. A family line dying out.

When my Aunt died there was stuff that was essentially worth very little, but I just had to rescue it because I knew how much it had meant to her.

Oh, and go with the new hair do, like it, it really works well;-)

-eve- said...

> So that's why now I tell people, don't give me anything I have to dust, just consumables thank you. I already have too much stuff which will go for a song or into the landfill when I am gone.
Wise thoughts.... as you say, we do keep accumulating stuff (I even keep boxes)... but best to stick to stuff we really can enjoy, cos in the end, it'll just be other ppl's trash....

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I echo your last sentence, jmb. It is the cruellest disease in the world. I am so sorry, too, that you now have this new aspect of the situation to deal with. But those are lovely photos and your friend will always be in your heart.

JC said...

Calum said it best... possessions don't measure a man/woman. None of us, while alive, will ever know how many people we've touched, but we all do, unknowingly, touch people. Take comfort in that.

You did good by this couple... rip.

jmb said...

Thanks to everyone for your comments on this post. Since I would be saying the same thing to everyone I hope you don't mind this group acknowledgment.

I thought it a very successful tea on most levels. It was not a sad occasion except for me tearing up when I spoke and I mostly spoke about these last few years because his friends did not know the reality of it. Perhaps that was wrong, I don't know. It felt right to me.

Thank again and regards
jmb