Sunday, 17 October 2010
Goodbye to an old friend.
Memorial event for my wife’s uncle today. He did not want a fuss when he died so nobody but his children were to attend the actual funeral several weeks ago then they were to arrange a party for his friends and family to get together to remember him.
This gave loads of far flung folk to get organised to attend hence our house guest from France. Ken was a marvelous guy, apart from being a distinguished medical researcher in his early career he spent much of his life as a teacher alongside his hospital practice. At one time he had the only working artificial kidney in the world while working in London and did research into kidney care which changed mortality rates from 90-100% to 50% saving suffering for untold numbers. Work on catheters for kidney work was transfered to the same for the heart and the fitting of stents so if you know people who have their tubes held open he helped develop that for them.
For someone with countless honours including a personal one from the Queen for being her physician in Scotland he was the most unassuming gentle man you could meet. He was interested in everything and was cramming in learned tomes until the last couple of months before he died, conversations with him were the best you could ever hope for and hours vanished before you knew it. He was doing the Times crossword till near the end, I could help with films and popular culture which somehow passed him by. When he could no longer hold the heavy books, I downloaded university lectures from iTunes and gave him my iPod to make up for his loss.
About a hundred and fifty turned up to hear people talk about his life, all his grand children spoke, read his favourite poems or played music on the instruments he bought for them. The one great grand child gurgled and cooed through the whole proceedings. Because of my lost voice, and not having grown up yet, I joined the GG child’s table for my coffee and sandwiches and over rich cakes. Eventually I joined the throng and tried hard to put names to the extended family and many of their friends who I have met before. They all took this new entity in their stride with several being especially warm and welcoming though the prize has to go to Janet who proposed that we have a shared birthday party this year! Numerous invitations received for dinner parties and one for a stay in Glasgow when I get my next gender clinic appointment.
It would seem that I have passed a big test today and really now I am just me to most people and just have to get on with it.
As people scattered to their homes we were left with no evening plans once we had delivered a passenger to his home. Since nobody else seemed to be having any firm ideas what to do I got in touch with a cousin in the town who I had heard say was going out for a meal with the couple she was putting up who had driven hundreds of miles from the south. I have met Avril many times but never her husband who is a tenant farmer, we joined them in a local restaurant for an interesting chatty evening. Julie’s sister is reeling from all these meetings, she has been away from Scotland for over half a lifetime having an interesting life which everyone has followed while she forgot most of them existed many she did not even know about.
Twelve hours off before the next lunch, this time with her old friends and easy since it is here. Going to need a week to recover.