Saturday, 31 October 2015

Going to a funeral

is always a curious experience. The Senior Cat went to one yesterday.
It has reached the point where he can be the oldest person in the church, chapel or other venue. He was yesterday.
He went to the funeral of someone he knew for more years than I have been alive. It's a long time.
He has been rather quiet for the couple of days since learning of his friend's death. It doesn't surprise me. They shared many experiences.
He talked some of them through with me as he made some brief notes to speak, briefly, at the funeral. The Senior Cat does not believe in prolonged speeches at any time. He also wanted to be sure that people would go away thinking well of his friend.
His friend was of Irish extraction. He had a great capacity for what he called "Irish blarney". Yes, he could tell a good story. He was an outstandingly good teacher.
I suspect that, unlike the Senior Cat, he was something of a fish out of water in the small rural community where they first taught together. The Senior Cat knew about rural life through family connections but his friend had always lived in the city. What the community made of him I don't know. He went on to teach in other places. He spent time in New Guinea. He came back and lectured. When he retired at 60 it was only because he was losing his hearing. He found even lecturing tertiary students too much of a strain he found other occupations. None of them lasted long. It was as if he wanted to experience things rather than forge a new career. 
Eventually he did retire. He lived not too far from here. His politics were far left. He would bail me up in the middle of the chemist or the supermarket or the bank and tell me what he thought of my latest letter in the paper. He wrote answers in response to them sometimes. We agreed to disagree. He knew that some of his most outrageous ideas would never work. He would go off and drink coffee with the Senior Cat and complain I was too practical. 
I didn't go to the funeral but I did speak to his eldest child on the phone. We agreed her father had done well. He'd had prostate cancer for more than 15 years and simply refused to give in to that or his increasing deafness or a multitude of other things.
He never gave in to the physical distance between himself and his friends either. If he hadn't seen you for a year then he just quietly picked up the strand between you as if he had seen you yesterday and carried on. It was true friendship.

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