Sunday, June 20, 2010
I went to a funeral last week. I wanted to post a blog about it because I have things to say – but I have been reflecting on how and what to say without perhaps drawing a pack of cards down on my head from Sparkers making the huge efforts of moderation that we all are.
This was a very longstanding friend who was my opposite neighbour for 20 years until I moved to Brighton 12 years ago. He was a huge, generous personality and a very good friend to everyone he knew. Everyone is devastated – particularly, of course his wife and adult daughter. It was a harrowing but happy funeral with lots of memories, tears and laughter, which inevitably made us all feel kind of better in the end.
He was not only a big personality – he was a big drinker (neat vodka, being Ukrainian) and a big eater - wonderful traditional rich stews which he made from fatty red meat – huge suet dumplings – big platters of cheese - butter on everything. He loved getting us round his table and plying us all with food from ‘the old country’. He loved drinking brandy and coffee in good weather on Saturday mornings under the apple trees in my garden. Then his wife would come in from the Saturday morning cello lessons that she gave and we would all put together a large late lunch which we ate with our children.
It was a wonderful time in my life, coloured by his generosity and by the food, fun and entertainment he offered (he was a pretty successful classical violinist but loved to play Ukrainian folk music to us all once the vodka kicked in).
I don’t have to add that he has died younger than we would all have wished. Too young to see his daughter marry or have the pleasure of grandchildren. It was his choice – he thought he was immortal – he thought he would be the one to avoid the clogged arteries and high blood pressure. He was wrong, of course, and I guess this blog is because I am wondering where exactly one draws the line between a long healthy life and a life of big food, drink and fun for family and friends who find themselves alone earlier than strictly necessary.
That line is certainly there - but today I am finding it hard to see exactly where it is.
I should add however that at the funeral I didn't abandon the Spark principles I have been fighting so hard to acquire. I ate very carefully from the loaded table, drank mostly water and actually took myself for a walk when it got hard. So maybe there is some kind of hope for me yet.