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. 


  1. Once again, I'm so sorry about the passing of your beloved uncle. He truly left his mark on this world, and that is something his entire extended family can be very proud of, but he seems to have been even more special to you. What wonderful conversations you must have had!

    You have such an interesting life, with all of your many diverse friends and social situations. Nothing at all like my cloistered life, here in my Piedmont hermit cave.

    A colorful sympathetic Autumn hug!
    Melissa XOXO

  2. I'm also sorry to hear of your uncle's death, Caroline. Another fine man gone. Your family must be very proud of his former eminence in his field.

    Glad to hear that for you personally it was no ordeal but a validating event, even more so than the funeral I attended a couple of weeks back was for me. What a boost it is for self-confidence and self-esteem!


  3. I'm sorry to hear your news. You certainly have known some impressive people! I'm so pleased that it went so well for you and that your extended family are letting you 'get on with it'. You're a very fortunate girl.

  4. He sounds like a wonderful man and he left so much good in the world.
    I would be happy if I could leave nearly as much behind.

    Enjoy all the functions that are going on and pass my regards to your wonderful wife and sister in law.

  5. Last one from that generation, we are now all in the front line!

    The most interesting people with the best houses are all either dying or have decided to move away at ages where in the past they would have been settled for life. Friends now seem to be scattered far and wide.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Caroline xxx


Many thanks to all who ever joined in the conversation and to those who took the time to follow my zig zag to a new life..

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