Looking back

Brian and Ollie (his grandson)
Brian and Ollie (his grandson)
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
Søren Kierkegaard

Good morning.

I'm exhausted today. It didn't help that I had a disturbed night's sleep. 

Not to worry. I'm here — coffee poured and ready for another day of legal shenanigans 😒. 

Brian's funeral was, as I knew it would be, hard for everyone but, on the other hand, in a strange and blessed sort of way, it was exactly as he'd have liked it.

It was very personal. Only close family. Yes, there were lots of people outside the church and quite a few in Totnes (outside St Mary's Church) but when it came to the crucial parts of the service, it was just us, Brian and the full panoply of emotion of saying goodbye to someone who meant so much to everyone.

We carried Brian into and out of the church and lowered his coffin into the burial plot, where he was laid to rest with the love of his life — his first wife — Anneta. When it came to the very short graveside service, we weren't allowed to throw earth on to the coffin but we made up with it by all throwing in some of his favourite flowers and Tim put some carrots in with him, only because he couldn't bloody grown them 😘. I too threw something in but it was a small potato that had fallen off the main wreath. I found it funny to think that, perhaps next year, in Brian's honour, we might have a small veg patch covering his grave. He'd love that, given his deep affection for and interest in gardening. 

After the service, we then, observing the necessary social distancing rules, went back to my sister-in-law's house to have lunch. My eldest daughter and her cousin had printed off and hung up on some string about 120 photos of Brian. Most of them were taken during the last thirty years of his life and each one showed him with his family and always smiling.

And that's how I'll always remember Brian: someone who loved his family more than anything else in the world. He was utterly selfless and helped them as best he could throughout his entire life. That's not to say he didn't do the things that he wanted to do and lived life to the full, but his family always came first.

As to his legacy, I know — no, I really know — that that will live on for a very long time. He touched all of my family and those of his other children and theirs (and his great-grandchild) and that love, affection and interest will never fade. Never. 

When it came to taking down the photos, I only wanted one. It shows the two of us trying to kiss each other, both of us wearing fake halos and having a big, raucous laugh. If we had a bromance going on — which of course we did (I loved him very much) — then it came about in spite of the fact that he thought me (I'm sure) a pain in the arse and difficult for the sake of it. But he never judged or spoke harshly of me. And what more can you ask for from a father-in-law?

I'll miss you Brian/BTP/Captain Chaos but your love will live on in all our lives forever. 

Love, Ju, Alli, Evie, Hetty and Floz.


I've only a few words to share today.

Think about your daily actions.

They'll leave a wake of some sort — big or small. 

Some day, much like Brian's life, and those you've lost, you won't be here. 

And someone will have to talk about and share your journey and what you meant to them and others.

It may not be important to you what they say — you won't be here — but what would you have them say?

S/he loved and was loved?

That would be more than enough for me.

To love everything and be loved. 

What else is there? 

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there are lots of things you want to do and are capable of doing but don't, as I've so often done, get lost in your own self-importance and forget about others.

Trust me, have buried Brian, this isn't me giving advice, or, god forbid, cheerleading a better life. No, this is me inviting you to consider if the purpose of life could or should be realigned to be in tune with your heart — your big, loving heart.

Even now, as you reflect on your life, it's not too late to make amends, and to try to be more loving, more caring and to pay attention to your daily actions, given their effect on those closest to you and everyone you know.

As they say, nothing is for free.

Take care.

Have a wonderful day.

Blessings, Ju

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