Friends

06 February 2016

The Finale


First of all I must thank all my blogging friends for your comments in recent weeks. Even though close to tears I appreciated that you took the time to leave messages.

I have been away too long and now I’m wondering what to write on the blog. It has to be about Joe, of course, and I know it will be difficult. I think I’ll start at the beginning ...

At the end of Joe’s terrible illness, when the cancer spread and threatened his life, he was transferred from hospital to a hospice. He had been admitted to hospital two days before Christmas, on our 38th wedding anniversary. At that time he was still able to communicate and he pleaded with us to carry on with the Christmas arrangements. Months earlier he had ordered and paid for the family’s usual slap up meal at our favourite hotel so following his wishes we dined out - rather sombrely - and then went to see him in the hospital. There was a slight deterioration, not too bad but bad enough for him to show no interest in his Christmas gifts. He was in the hospital for eight days before being moved to the hospice. And that was where he died.  Rosanne and I had been with him all day before leaving to come home. It was a half-hour drive but one we wished we hadn’t made. As we walked through the front door the phone rang, the caller asking us how quickly we could go back. He only had 5 to 10 minutes left. We left immediately but got there too late. Joe had gone.

How did we cope? I would say we coped with extreme difficulty. Tears well up when I think of that time. But we had to move on, or sink.

As you know there is a lot to do when death strikes. Arrangements to make, people to tell, all the while trying to live and eat and sleep as well as shed even more tears.  I tried to keep the tears private, though, rather than upset others.

But let me tell you about the funeral, which many have described as wonderful. When I made my funeral plan, something like three years ago, I had been impressed by the firm of undertakers that took me through the plan. Naturally, Rosanne and I went back to them. They did a wonderful job and I know Joe would have approved.

The undertaking company is a family affair, brother and sister known as Daniel and Sarah. Both are well trained and have the knack of putting folk at ease. They don’t push, they suggest. And you can’t fault their suggestions. Right from the start they took over, ordered and arranged everything, always consulting us first. Sarah would ring just to see how I was, all the time offering help if needed. She knew I was alone, you see, Rosanne having her own house to stay in when over here from Australia.

On the day of the funeral we were treated like royalty, chauffeur driven and red carpet! But the service was straightforward. We had tried to keep it simple, well known hymns that got people singing, and an interesting eulogy that told people more about Joe than they knew. We had emphasised his love of football, from his playing days to the less energetic interest of watching his team play and in this regard we had requested that people wore a splash of red – his team’s colour. And they did... it was lovely and genuinely approved of by the priest. There was a surprise ending to the service, though. The music chosen to end was the signature tune of ‘Match of the Day’ which produced smiles and tapping feet as the congregation sat and listened. Many people remarked on our choice of music and they all said that Joe would have approved.

There were people there I didn’t know and it was interesting to hear how the word had spread to the business world which in turn brought people to pay their respects. The small crematorium was packed with, I was later told, 70 people, many of whom came back to the house for refreshments.

In recent weeks I learned more about Joe than I knew. What I didn’t realise was how loved he was by people from all walks of life. Many referred to him as a great man with a terrific sense of humour and one who would talk to anyone. They were SO right. My Joe wouldn’t harm a fly let alone a human being, and if he knew someone had a problem he would do everything in his power to assist. Yes, he was a man of simple tastes but with a heart of gold. Is it any wonder everyone loved him?

Yesterday, whilst sorting out his papers I found a folder full of cards and letters. Inside was an envelope full of letters written by me before we were married. He never threw them away. There was also a poem I wrote when he was going through a bad patch. It wasn’t a great poem but it was my first and he must have liked it to have kept it so long.

LEAN ON ME

If I could reach out and pluck stars from the sky
I would feel the desire to plant one in each eye
Of the one that I care for, the one who deserves more
From one who is willing to try
To make life richer and easier to bear
Let me be the one who is willing to share
In your ups and your downs,
Your smile and your frowns,
Let me be the one to care.

Don’t be afraid, there are no schemes
Just a heartfelt desire to be part of your dreams
Of a life full of promise and hope,
Knowing that one day you’ll cope
And your path will be filled with new themes.
These are the words of a very true friend,
Take love and some laughter and make them blend,
a recipe which in time creates peace of mind.
I make you a promise that eventually you’ll find
If you use my strength you’ll succeed in the end.

23 comments:

A Cuban In London said...

That poem is gorgeous, the reason why he kept it for all these years. It's the feeling in it that counts and I'm sure that his feelings for you were as strong those years ago as they were since. Beautiful post you have written even if it's sadness-tinted. You can lean on us, your blog-friends. I will come back and I would like to know about this wonderful man's life. Thanks.

Greetings from London.

Ron said...

"What I didn’t realise was how loved he was by people from all walks of life."

Valerie, I think that's what moved me the most about my mothers memorial service, realizing how loved she was by so many people from all walks of life. It touched me so much.

The way you speak of Joe makes me wish I could have met him. Yet, just from knowing you both over the years and from reading his funny comments on your posts, I could tell that he had a great sense of humor. And I could also tell he had a heart of gold.

Thank you so much for sharing the poem you wrote to Joe. It was beautiful. And it moved me to tears. It's very apparent just how much you loved one another.

Please know that you are in my thoughts; sending much love and support during this time.

((((((( You )))))))

Glad to see you back, dear lady.

X

Mr. Shife said...

A fitting tribute for a wonderful man. Take care dear friend and just know that there are a lot of folks thinking of you.

kden said...

I think it's a great testament to people when you hear total strangers tell you how wonderful they were. That is a true gift. Nice to see you out and about in blogland.

DeniseinVA said...

One of a kind your Joe, and they certainly broke the mold. It was lovely though, with a tear in the eye, to read this and learn how very much loved and respected he was, though in my heart I knew this would be the case. The splash of red at the funeral was a sweet and thoughtful touch. My thoughts have been with you Valerie and I continue to send my love and lots of hugs.

DeniseinVA said...

I didn't want to go without also saying what a beautiful poem you wrote. Heartfelt poetry, sweet words.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello Valerie,

My heart felt condolences on the sad demise of your wonderful husband. May God give you the courage and strength to bear this irreparable loss. May his soul rest in peace.

Yours in sorrow,
Joseph

John Bain said...

Hi Valerie. I haven't blogged for a while and haven't kept up to date with lots of things. Thank you for the message you left me. What a coincidence that I decided to look at my page again on the very day you sent it.
My deepest condolences on the loss of your Joe. It is difficult to know what to say on these occasions but I never believe that someone has truly died all the while we have good memories to remind us of their presence.
Love from John x

Geraldine said...

I am glad that the arrangements were not too trying for you and everything went well. A very sad occasion of course but done well and befitting a wonderful guy. Your words about Joe touched my heart.

Take care, more hugs, G

Valerie said...

Cuban, thank you. Yes, the poem was written from the heart and not designed to be a masterpiece. It's an honour that Joe kept it so long.

Valerie said...

Ron, you would have liked Joe... he was extremely friendly and had a great sense of humour. The trouble was, we never got round to visiting Philly. We had talked about it, but that was all. Thank you SO much for your support.

Valerie said...

Thank you, Matt. Your continuing support is very much appreciated especially on the darker days.

Valerie said...

kden, hopefully a return to blogging will help get through the darker days.

Valerie said...

Denise, yes, the flash of red did lift the occcasion, especially towards the end when it was most needed. Thank you so much for your lovely comment and all those hugs. Bless you.

Valerie said...

Joseph, thank you. At least my man is no longer in pain. He didn't deserve that.

Valerie said...

John. The memories are strong and long-lasting and I am grateful for that. Thanks for popping in, it was good of you. At least you know that your artwork was greatly admired.

Valerie said...

Geraldine, thank you. I keep reading that poem - remembering.

troutbirder said...

Ray and Barb (The Troutbirders) send their condolences, Valerie. A beautiful poem on obviously a much beloved man. R.I.P. Joe.....

Valerie said...

Thank you, Ray and Barb. Yes, he was a beloved man, and I am so proud to have been with him all these years.

Mr. Shife said...

Hello my friend. Hope you are doing OK and taking care of yourself. Lots of thoughts, prayers and hugs from Idaho.

Jenny Woolf said...

Valerie, I have been away but I have just read this post and I think your poem is so lovely. It is wonderful but not surprising that Joe kept it all these years.

Mersad said...

Valerie I am so sorry for your loss and for being late in expressing my condolence. Somehow your posts escaped me, and I just read your latest one from which I concluded that something had happened to Joe. I know you loved him very much and he was a constant presence on your blog as well. I wish you all the strength in the world right now. Rest in peace Joe.

Valerie said...

Thank you, Mersad. I appreciate your kind words.