Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Just how well do we

know people?
No, I am not talking about Rolf Harris here. (For the record I never did like him. That sort of slick "entertainment" style does not appeal to me at all. )
No, this is about my friend M whose funeral I went to yesterday. It was a surprisingly cheerful occasion. Her three daughters refused to let it be a sad one. Their mother would not have wanted that.
M and I go way back - to before I even knew her. She knew my paternal grandfather. He was a grown man when she was a child but she would see him around the port area they both lived in and she once told me that he taught one of her brothers to row the small boat used by many of the local children. And yesterday I heard, not from the daughter who gave the eulogy but from another member of the family, that my grandfather was the one who set her out on her first career - that of dressmaker.
It was not deliberate but M could sew and some nuns needed some habits made. It was not something my grandfather could do. It had nothing to do with the fact that he was Presbyterian but that it would have been highly improper for a male to be in close contact with nuns. (How different things are now. When our friend Polly comes to visit - alone - she and the Senior Cat hug one another.)
But, the nuns needed habits. My grandfather knew M could sew. He knew - because he had seen clothing she had made - that she could sew well enough and he suggested her for the task. She did it. I had no idea - and neither did anyone else.
I also had no idea that she was a "Master Mariner" and I don't think most people in the room had any idea either. I knew her husband had been one. He and I had discussed maritime issues when he was alive. He had been a lighthouse keeper and had known both my grandfather and my paternal great-grandfather - a maritime pilot.  But M, a Master Mariner as well?  I was aware she was highly knowledgeable about such things but I had assumed it was because she was intelligent and interested. Where and when she obtained the qualification is a mystery.  And yet it explained other things about her - particularly the way she kept her house and her use of some maritime words such as "anchor her down".
And so, did I know my friend? Of course I did. Did I know her well? Yes, in some respects I did. But how well did I know her? I don't know but I glad I did know her.

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