Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Can I help you?


I ought to mention - for one last time - Sis's send-off, for all you who have been kind enough to wish us well on the day, and that day was yesterday.

As predicted, all went fine and I hope that the highly personal and emotional address given directly to her boxed mother will draw some sort of line under recent events for Niece.

Pulling up in the car-park, I found myself shaking hands with elderly strangers who turned out to be relatives, and an old family friend and I suddenly became reacquainted after a period of about 45 years. Only when she smiled I realised that this was the slightly older girl who I had a teenage crush on, developed during long and boring visits to her parents by mine - me in tow because I was too young to leave behind. It made me realise that I am now over this crush and - quite unsurprisingly - I never noticed the passing.

Sister-in-law gave an address which highlighted the humour for which Sis will always be remembered, and one story involved me - well almost.

I was reminded of the time when Sis - expecting me to come home at a particular time without a door-key - stuffed a small pillow under one shoulder of her jumper and contorted her body into a rough parody of Charles Laughton playing Quasimodo in Notre Dame.

Sis had a remarkable, comic control over her own face. At will, she could make her eyeballs rotate independently of each other, and her mouth stretch diagonally to such an extreme degree that it seemed that one corner of it would be just below her left ear-lobe, as the other would be just above her right jaw-bone.

She had a similar control over her voice, and was the only amateur singer in the Waynfleet Choir to effortlessly cover three octaves and still stay in perfect pitch. I once saw (and heard) her practicing hitting as low a bass note as she could muster, and - believe me - Willard White would have been proud of her.

So hearing the doorbell ring that evening, she slowly shuffled to the door and made a great show of un-sliding bolts and chains (yes, we did have bolts and chains on the doors of our big, old house) and - having adopted the hideous face and posture - slowly opened it to allow for as long a creak as possible, then vaguely looking up in the direction of the stranger on the other side, said in a low, cracked and strangled voice, "Can I help you?"

We never did find out who that visitor was or what he wanted, because he spun around and actually ran away from the house, never to return.

15 comments:

  1. Good to hear it all passed off OK. Trying times.

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  2. It's good to know that the service went well. It is lovely to read about your admiration and regard for her. I would like to think my own brother would speak as fondly and as highly of me.

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  3. Hello Tom:
    It is reassuring to read that all went well with your sister's funeral, in as much as such an occasion can be considered to 'go well'. It is always emotionally draining for all concerned, but an address that really is given from the heart and captures the essence of the person can be so uplifting in so many ways. We are sure that your sister will be remembered fondly by those whose lives she touched, not least of all yours. Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this sad time.

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  4. I'm glad to hear it went well. Glad isn't the right word, but i think you know what i mean. Love the story about Quasimodette.

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  5. Just the story to make the funeral go with a swing as all funerals should Tom. Glad it went well.

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  6. good to end on a light note. Glad all went well :)

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  7. That's the perfect way to remember her Tom. I'm also glad it went well.

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  8. Tom, you were in my thoughts too while it was all going on. Loved that story about your sis.

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  9. I was going to do the old "the face rinds a bell" joke..... but your punchline was better of course

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  10. I am glad for you all that there was shared humour at such a sad time. I am sure that your sister would have appreciated it.

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  11. There's not much I can say about all your comments except thanks again. This will be the last in the death series for a while now - we all need a break, eh?

    But - welcome to Vera, my 99th spiritual devotee (or whatever they are called these days). I have a special treat lined up for my 100th, and it is worth every penny I spent in The Pound Shop.

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  12. Bit late to the party (!) but I was thinking of you yesterday. Wondered if you did the eulogy/address. Lovely memories of your sister - what a riot she was. How supportive you've been to your niece. Take care.Cx

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  13. Wonderful, joyous way to say goodbye to a dearly loved sister... She had a cracking sense of humour from your description of her, may she rest in peace now... Thank you for sharing what must have been a very difficult time.. all the best, Janzi

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  14. Even later to the party.
    A good sense of humour is an essential ingredient to getting through this crazy ride called life.
    You have an amazing (albeit often naughty) sense of humour and you seem to have done your sister proud.

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  15. I'm late back as well, but never mind - life goes on.

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