“The best portion of a good man’s life is his little nameless unremembered acts of kindness and of love.”
It was my father’s funeral today. I haven’t mentioned it before because everyone has their own challenges at the moment and many of you have your own parents to worry about.
However, it’s a significant day in my life, and part of my record of lockdown.
He died after a short illness, having tested positive for Covid 19 several weeks ago. He was moved from the care home to the hospital as he became weaker and, after a brief rally, died peacefully, without experiencing any of the breathing difficulties reported in the press.
Last time we visited he beat us all at dominoes. He may have lost his ability to remember people, but he still retained his facility with numbers. He was still competitive, too, and retained the will to win that had led my mother to hide the Monopoly board each Christmas was still there.
I will remember that visit, with the sound of a distant TV and the click of dominoes, and my sister telling me it was only a game.
It is a matter of great sadness, but he was ninety one and you cannot complain at that.
The funeral was a strange affair. We could not use the village church because it is closed during lockdown, and simply met at the crematorium for a short service. Numbers were limited to ten, and we had to tell many friends and family members they must not travel, as we want them all to stay safe. There was, of course, no gathering afterwards, which made the whole thing seem incomplete.
There was a list of people who were allowed to attend posted near the entrance. This includes partners, children and grandchildren but excludes friends. If you aren’t on the list, you aren’t even allowed in the grounds.
Our group included three family members and five friends.
In doing this we weren’t actually breaking government guidelines, as close friends are allowed if family members do not attend. Most of the friends attending had known him for between twenty and fifty years and seen him more often than most family members.
It seems that the crematorium is making up rules to suit itself.
Having checked the regulations to ensure I am accurate in reporting, I can also add that the figure of ten people seems to be an arbitrary figure decided by the crematorium, rather than a government figure.
My father loved singing and, in his youth, he had been asked to join a professional singing group but my grandmother had been unwilling to let him go. Sadly, we are not allowed to sing tomorrow as excessive exhalation is considered a health hazard.
The service was available on webcast and a number of people have already been in contact to thank my sister for her efforts in organising a meaningful and dignified service in the face of several difficulties.
It was an uplifting service, celebrating a life, without being boastful. This summed my father up. He achieved many things in life. Starting from a position of disadvantage, he educated himself in the Royal Navy, worked hard, and won several prestigious awards. He also found time to work for charity, serve in a soup kitchen for the homeless, and stay married for 60 years. My mother, it has to be said, played a large part in his success.
He was known for being blunt, being good company and working hard. Mainly, it has to be said, for being blunt.
As we left the crematorium a large group of socially distancing mourners we lined up outside the gateway to pay respect to another funeral. This is how we mourn in times of lockdown.