Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Here we go again

Well it looks as though the Grim Reaper is still dogging my tracks. R's brother rang me this evening to tell me that his Aunty Vera had died.

Now Vera wasn't a huggable sort of aunty at all. "Formidable" was probably the best word to describe her. A classic old-school army wife with a ramrod straight back and inability to suffer fools at all, let alone gladly. In the course of her life she moved house nearly 40 times and, even in her eighties she thought nothing of upping sticks and moving to new accommodation. At the age of 90, she had her driving license renewed.

I remember feeling rather daunted at the thought of meeting her for the first time. When the day finally came, I had a horrible bout of food poisoning after eating fried chicken at a party the night before. R had to stop the car a couple of times on our way to his parents' house so I could throw up, and I spent most of the afternoon with my head in a bucket! Strangely it proved to be an excellent ice-breaker and she never let me forget our first meeting.

As a woman who liked to be in control of her life, she seems to have been in charge at the leaving of it too. She had recently lost a lot of weight and was eventually taken into hospital because of stomach pains. The doctors suspected a hiatus hernia and wanted to do exploratory surgery. Vera told them in no uncertain terms that she had had enough and wasn't going to be "messed about with" by them! Within a few days she had said goodbye to all the people who were important to her and passed on in her own terms.
I cannot help but admire someone who is so uncompromising right to the last.

I was planning a trip down South to drop off Christmas presents, but it now looks as though I shall be combining it with a funeral. I'd better make sure I don't eat fried chicken the night before - just in case!


  1. J, i am so terribly sorry to hear of your Aunt's death. what a formidable woman and yet, i sense your amusement with and respect for her. it seems as if she did it all her way, even in dying, and yet, now that my Dragon is gone and i know what lives behind my own eyes, i always wonder what secrets live behind the eyes of others. i hope your Aunt Vera lived a contented life and that most of the things she gained by being uncompromising really truly did go her way. she, as well as you, will be in my thoughts now.

  2. I think Aunty Vera would be quite amused if you did eat fried chicken. A lady to be admired. Vail Aunty Vera.

  3. Anonymous10:33

    Hi J - sorry to hear that news, but it sounds as though she had a good life and ended it on terms of her choosing. Good for her.

    (This is atropos from the down to earth forums btw)

  4. It saddens me to hear that we have lost another from "that generation". There is something so special about their "keep calm and carry on" attitude. People today are such wusses in comparison ... I'm sorry that you have a funeral to attend, esp at this time of the year, J. Big hugs to you. I loved your description of her and your first meeting - made me smile wryly xx

  5. Thank you everyone for your kind words. I didn't see Vera very often, but she was very kind to me after R died and I have immense respect for her. She will be missed.

    @Atropos: Thank you for dropping by. Yep, she really did things her own way to the end. You've gotta respect that.

    @Boo: I know what you mean about losing our role models from that generation. They all saw and went through such pain and heartbreak - so few families were spared it - but knew how to keep on going regardless, and how to enjoy the good times when they come around. They still have a lot to teach us.

  6. I have a soft spot for the "Aunt Vera's" of this world, of which there seem to be fewer and fewer. We don't just suffer fools these day, we indulge and babysit them and I really think our society is the worse for it - a healthy, balanced middle ground between Aunt Vera and the rod I could imagine her wielding and today's touchy-feely, soft as mush, bleeding hearts would be something to strive for.

    You really are a great story teller, by the way.

    PS - I was reading an instruction manual for an air drill we just bought, obviously translated by an underpaid, Chinese student - it had me in hysterics ("do not work air reversible drill in jewels and fluttering clothing," it warned) and it made me think of you and the world of translation.

  7. J - I'm very sorry to read about your Aunt Vera's death. It does sound as though she probably passed on her own terms. I hope that I will have somewhat similar fortitude when my time comes.

    I must say I had quite a laugh when I read fireweed meadow's comment about the instructions for the drill. This past summer, I bought a couple of products that had hilarious warnings. I should really be saving them in a file for days when I need a good laugh.

  8. @FM: Brilliant translation - thank you. I hope you have taken off your jewels and fluttering garments! I have a fine collection of them myself - they are always good for a giggle.

    @Bev: Thank you for your condolences. I think Aunty V was a good role model in many ways - particularly her ability to to stick up for what she believed to be right.