The dear departed.


It is impossible to read a bad word about those that have gone. All of us, men and women are faultless when in the icy embrace of the dearly departed. Here some examples from the obituary page of the Sydney Morning Herald: “Norman. Devoted father and beloved husband, sadly missed at 98 years old after 68 years of unstinting love to his dear wife Gladys, unselfishly gave to the community. Or Mavis, at 102 years sadly passed surrounded by loving family at Eventide Home, fascinating and loving wife of Geoffrey (who remained, faithful till the bitter end). She pioneered tirelessly for the sport of indoor sword fighting, boxing and gun clubs.”

With all the rain it did make me somewhat melancholic or inward looking and spend the time as usefully as possible and of late have come to peruse the paper’s Deaths and Funerals pages. It is amazing how few surnames start with ‘n O for my name in the summary. I have been solidly at it and have as yet to read something unfavourable about those that have gone from this world. How come this almost Sainthood when in the casket?

One wonders what our own funeral will illicit. “Gerard, miserable ratbag of a man, self absorbed till the end and so mean. Thank God the bastard is gone.” Don’t bring flowers.

One gets to think a bit more, and in my own case applying on the advice of some friends for a mobility permit, or, in plain language a ‘Disability Parking Permit which I miraculously succeeded in receiving after a doctor signed the necessary papers. I can now haughtily park my car in special slots reserved for the more feeble of us. I will try and walk a bit taller. There is a sort of achievement the same as when I became first a grandfather. A new era has dawned.

Here is a lovely poem by the late Clive James and read by the amazing and very great actress Miriam Margolyes. I hope you will enjoy is as much as I did.


22 Responses to “The dear departed.”

  1. freefall852 Says:

    Oh dear!…An astute observation, Gerard, on the panegyrics to the deceased..and unless one pencils one’s own obituary, it is left to those closest to put “the final touches” on one’s memory…
    I recently published on my blog site, one such memory of a close relative and mother of five children that was chileled into her tombstone and the..what looks like an “add-on” tribute to their father..see below (the names are cxhanged to “protect the innocent!)

    “There is not one letter extant, if one ever did exist, neither love letter or note, nothing of any subject at all from Richard Thomas…all memories of their early years comes from Grace and only from Grace…make of that what you will, but as history is always written by the victors, the inscription on the gravestone of the couple (Grace preceded) demonstrates the influence Grace had on her children ;

    “In loving memory of;

    Grace Mary Thomas.

    Devoted wife of Richard Thomas.

    Beloved mother of Rosaline, Mary, Hannah, John and Daniel.

    Born 1898, Died 1980.

    Native of County Cork , Ireland.

    R.I.P. “

    And of Richard , chiseled on the headstone below Grace’s, almost as an afterthought :

    “In Memory of ;

    Richard Thomas,

    Loved husband of the above”. ….”

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, a fascinating journey it is bound to be. We might not remember our birth but I am sure the opposite will also not throw much light on the end either. That is the good thing of life that both beginning and end will remain a bit of a mystery.

      I am just thrown back again with this heart attack of Shane Koh Samui, Thailand.
      Our son, dear Nicholas also ended up dying at Koh Samui. It is odd how many tourists have died and are dying on that Island.

      He was found dead fully dressed on his bed watching TV, and the story was that he died as a result of his medication and alcohol. Nick wasn’t a drinker. He was a calm and well balanced man.
      However, the official Thai police rapport was ‘No suspicious circumstances.’
      The iPhone that we were given by the police proved not to be his phone. So, the biopsy could not be performed on Kog Samui and Nick was cremated on Koh Samui without biopsy..

      I remain skeptical of those many deaths of tourists on Koh Samui.
      It is almost eight years since Nick died. It sometimes comes back to me and I am left to wonder.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yvonne Says:

        That is truly tragic. You and Helvi would have been devastated by the death of your son, and never knowing what had happened would have been another blow.

        Liked by 1 person

      • auntyuta Says:

        Gerard, I do not dare to imagine, how the death of your dear son, Nick, would have affected both you and dear Helvi – – – –

        And you say, that you are just thrown back again with this heart attack of Shane Warne, at Koh Samui, Thailand.

        I feel very much worried about what on earth is going on
        in Koh Samui, Thailand – – – –

        Both the death of your Nicholas, as well as that of famous Shane Warne was totally sudden and unexpected!

        Everybody seems to be at a loss to prove something horrible going on in that place!

        Do you think, tourist ought to be given some warning, to avoid this place from now on?


      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Yes, the death of our son did not add up. But, Koh Samui is Thailand with lots of smiling faces but also a dark side . We were in our seventies and totally overwrought when instead of a shared holiday with our son Nick in Thailand we went and flew there to arrange his cremation. He went there a few days before us as we had some double glazing installed in our place in Bowral.

        We were supposed to fly over together, if only we had! There were a few sinister people who told us that our son owed them money. We were so surprised because our son wasn’t penniless and never would borrow money. The English couple who owned the villa in Koh Samui said that Nicholas had paid the rent up front and that our son did not owe anyone money.

        Anyway, Helvi and I had a sad time and Shane Warne’s untimely death brought it all up again. An autopsy in Koh Samui wasn’t possible and it seems it still isn’t possible.
        We accepted the police that it was a death ”with no suspicious circumstances.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • auntyuta Says:

        This is awful beyond words, Gerard. It is so awful, that even tears would not be able to bring much relief! – – – –

        And all this after you had already lost a daughter!

        Peter and I had lost our daughter Gabriele just a few months before you lost your precious daughter. I remember, Gerard, how after some time, you commented on this!

        Peter had already undergone some cancer treatment by that time! At first this treatment was very successful. Unfortunately,
        eventually he needed cancer treatment, that did not leave a lot
        of time or energy to devote to our dear friends!

        So, we did keep mainly to ourselves, except for when the family had plans to see us on special occasions, that is basically just a few times within a year!

        Also, I should mention, whenever Peter ended up in hospital for some special procedures, that became more and more necessary, our two daughters would often be around,!

        And son Martin, who is retired but lives 600km away in Victoria, yes, Martin did often come to stay with me for
        up to a week! We would then visit Peter every day all
        day in Wollongong Hospital!

        Well, this is life. Quite often, a lot is beyond our control!

        We can only try, to make the best with that time, that is granted to us! – – – –

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Yvonne Says:

    Stop teasing us. Where is the link to the poem?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. catterel Says:

    Not sure why, but I had to chase around a bit to get to the poem – well worth the effort, of course. Miriam always is! But what a beautiful poem and how exquisitely read. Thank you, Gerard. And like you, I have yet to see a really truthful obituary. Maybe there lurks even in the most atheistic of us a fear that speaking ill the dead will bring them back to haunt us?

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Strange how some links only work at times and sometimes not. Anyway glad you enjoyed it. Clive James was quite a man with words and in many languages.
      Cemeteries are really big in Russia and people actually go there with baskets of food and drinks (Vodka) for a jolly time reminiscing about the departed Borisses or Vanyas.
      There is also a terrific grave yard in Buenos Aires. One can spend days there just fossicking around. Lots of cats too.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. leggypeggy Says:

    The poem is perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. auntyuta Says:

    Gerard, your imaginary ‘obituary’ shows your great imagination and humor! It is so humorous, that I made me laugh instantly.

    But then I thought a bit more about it, why is it that ‘obituaries’ nearly always deal only with the ‘good’ things a person has done during a life-time?

    It leads me to what I call my ‘personal’ belief about ‘Jesus’. I am not sure, whether I am a sort of ‘odd’ Catholic convert. I really do not have a lot of contact to other Catholics. I do not want to go into the reason for that. It is really another subject I would have a lot to say about . . . .

    So, at age 40 I became a Catholic convert!

    I was attracted by everything that related to what Jesus is supposed to have said.

    He said, something like that if a great sinner (for instance someone who did commit murder) if this ‘mortal’ sinner is truly sorry for having done such a horrible sin, Jesus says, In this case a forgiveness of this sin can be granted!

    I find the ‘Hail Mary’ Prayer has great faith value!

    The first part of the Prayer says how blessed Mary is.

    The second part of the Hail Mary goes like this:

    Holy Mary,
    Mother of God,
    Pray for us Sinners,
    Save us from the Fires of Hell,
    And bring all Souls to
    Heaven, especially those
    That most need thy mercy. Amen

    The Catholic belief, as far as I know, is that every person can become as wholesome as Jesus at death’s door, and then go straight to ‘Heaven’ so to speak. So when a person is dead and has regretted every bit of ‘Wrongdoing (Sin)’ then this person is totally blame-free, meaning nothing bad at all should be said about this deceased person!

    Church people, that tend to threaten a mortal Sinner, as for instance
    a murderer, with everlasting ‘Hell’ in my view do not act the way the (imaginative) ‘Jesus’ would have acted towards a ‘mortal’ Sinner!

    The way, I imagine Jesus, he would have talked gently towards this person who committed a very grave Sin! Probably in most cases, there would not have been an instant forgiveness, but some urging to do a lot of ‘penance’!

    When you do ‘penance’, you try extremely hard, to lead a life of a kind of self-sacrifice to make up for the very great wrong of mortal Sin!

    Now to Mary, who is called ‘Mother of God’: This, to my mind wholly imaginary ‘Mother of God’, is just someone, that can pray for us so much better than we can ever be praying for ourselves!

    In the Hail Mary Prayer, we think especially about those who do need most this special kind of mercy, so are in need of a lot of prayer!

    My feeling is, that it is quite alright, ‘to speak only well’ about the deceased.

    However, somebody who says on his deathbed that it was right that it was right to murder a person because that person is from a different race, how a person like this can ever be forgiven – – – – Well, I do not have an answer to this.

    What I write here, are my personal feelings.

    At this stage, I do just express my personal belief!

    I do not claim, that my interpretations about ‘Belief’ are of general value: Really, not at all!

    I assume, to be able to talk more sufficiently about the subject of belief, would, for sure, require some proper studying!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      You are welcome to write whatever you want, Uta.
      I was brought up strict catholic and in those days almost everything joyful was a sin or a sign of danger.

      I was a good young man, helped doing the dishes, laid the table and took the garbage out
      It was at my early teen years that I started to see sign of a joy that came with growing up. However, according to the church’s rules that particular growing and swelling joy was carnal and had to be confessed to an elderly bearded black robed man behind black gauze and inside a smelly black wooden box. It was eternal hell for Gerard if he continued! And, of course continue he did.

      However, my mind started to question all that and the joy of my sinning overcame all, triumphantly! I gave the blackness a miss and haven’t really looked back since.

      I find it uplifting that your faith is still there and that it gives you comfort, Uta.

      . My parents after retirement also started to waver in the faith of Catholicism and mum gave up going to church. One reason was the the terrible plight of having a schizophrenic son who was well cared for in Holland but none the less a great worry. “How could God allow that to happen when all they did was being good and faithful to the church?”

      It is never easy. I think The Lutheran church is far more tolerant and stress living a good life without hurting anyone. Live by example.

      Liked by 1 person

      • freefall852 Says:

        Perhaps the tragedy lies not so much in knowledge gained in “growing up” much as the innocence lost in growing “wise”. . .

        The young courter.
        I wonder if young boys court the girls,
        Like we courted girls long ago,
        I wonder if they too do wonder on the mystery,
        That we pondered upon in those Summers that passed so slow.
        Those days when I rode my pushbike past her front hedgerow,
        With my shorts, brylcreme’d hair and ‘fair isle’ vest just to make a show.
        When I rode my pushbike past Jean Beacham’s front hedgerow.
        What I was seeking there, I then was not to know,
        For a girl was as much a mystery to us as was the impulse to grow,
        Which was the mystery would draw me to that front hedgerow,
        And Jean would sometimes flirt to me from her front window,
        So her younger sister could take aim – with ripe nectarines to throw,
        Where I sat there on my pushbike at the low hedgerow.

        Jean would laugh the kiss of the Summer hills,
        And smile the moonlight of June,
        She could mock me, shock me, and tease me..still I would return,
        To ride my trusty treadly past her house forlorn..
        But I wonder if the young boys court girls nowadays,
        With such faithful concern?

        Liked by 2 people

  6. shoreacres Says:

    Every now and then I come across a truly funny obituary. Here’s a little collection of them. The funniest one I ever found on a gravestone was in Kansas. It said, “Gone, and Better Forgotten.” There’s a story behind that one, for sure.

    I’d never heard of Miriam Margolyes, nor read the poem. Thanks for the introduction to both.

    Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, I find it now quite entertaining to read those pages of the dead. Miriam Margolyes has a house in this neck of the woods ( Southern Highlands) and is married to a woman who lives in Amsterdam. A very good and witty actress. She is known for being outrageously outspoken, fearless.
      Glad you like the poem.
      Awards and nominations
      Year Award Category Nominated work Result Refs
      1989 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Supporting Actress Little Dorrit Won [59][60]
      1991 Laurence Olivier Award Best Actress in a Musical Dickens’ Women Nominated [61]
      1993 British Academy Film Award Best Supporting Actress The Age of Innocence Won [59][62]
      Sony Radio Award Best Actress On Radio The Queen and I Won [63]
      1997 The Talkies Performer of the Year N/A Oliver Twist Won [60]
      2001 Audiofile’s Earphones Award N/A A Christmas Carol Won [64]
      2007 Theatregoer’s Choice Award Best Supporting Actress in a Musical Wicked Won [65]
      2010 Best Supporting Actress in a Play Endgame Won [66]
      2018 Audiofile’s Earphones Award N/A Bleak House Won [67]
      Margolyes was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2002 New Year Honours for Services to Drama.[68]

      Liked by 1 person

  7. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Funny but not funny when we talk of death and dying. I seldom read the obits which I find to be, too depressing. I think that many of the write ups are somewhat “jazzed up” to make the deceased appear all by saintly. The RIP on the tombstone has always been a mystery to me. How does one rest in peace if one is dead? There is no feeling when one is dead.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, sometimes people want to be seen as ‘good’ and well meaning and write nice things after the departure of someone.
      It is easy to be good then but a different matter to be good and caring even towards those that we might not feel all that enamored by.

      Liked by 2 people

      • auntyuta Says:

        Kimberley Kitching disclosed allegations Senate Labor colleagues bullied her months before her death

        By political editor Andrew Probyn

        I, Uta, just had a look at the above article about Senator Kitching’s death. I now copy bits and pieces from it to show,
        that most people hate to speak bad about people, that have
        died and have not even had their funeral yet!

        So here are some extracts:

        . . . . .

        “One Labor senator, who declined to be named, said the treatment of Senator Kitching by some of her colleagues was ‘disgusting’ and had added to the stress of her preselection endorsement being long delayed.

        ‘Kimberley was no shrinking violet of course, and you don’t get to the Senate if you can’t take the rough and tumble, but it does not matter how tough you are, there is only so much you can take,’ the senator said.

        ‘This sort of behaviour can’t continue. We have to talk about this in parliament but we have to sort ourselves out first.’

        The road to the election is paved in trouble
        Kimberley Kitching fought as hard as the boys. She knew how to land a political blow, even if it was on her own side of politics. Her death might have prompted some to decry backroom political tactics, but don’t expect that to change how the parties operate any time soon.”

        . . . . .

        Another ally of Senator Kitching said it was “disingenuous” for Mr Albanese and other members of the Labor front bench to cite Senator Kitching’s funeral on Monday to parry questions about bullying inside Labor ranks.

        “I’m speaking up in respect of Kimberley, not out of disrespect,” the senator said.

        Senator Kitching’s preselection was being held up by factional squabbling in the Victorian division of the party.

        When approached by the ABC, Senator Wong said she was not aware of any claim of bullying made by Senator Kitching to the workplace trainer contracted by parliament.

        Earlier, Senator Wong told reporters that Senator Kitching’s death was “tragic and shocking” and that many in Labor were grieving.

        “So I’m simply not going to engage in commentary about some of the allegations which have been raised, even if I and others disagree with them,” she said.

        Asked by a reporter if she believed Senator Kitching had been bullied, she said: “Somebody has died. She was somebody loved by her family, somebody who was close to many people in the Labor Party.

        “And as the leader said today, out of respect for that, I’m not going to engage in political commentary, even in relation to assertions with which I disagree and which are hurtful.”

        Senator Gallagher, when asked on ABC radio if Senator Kitching had been treated with respect and professional courtesy, said: “I just don’t think it’s respectful for us to enter into commentary or disagreement about particular aspects of it at this point in time, I don’t think it’s right. I think that people are still grieving.”

        Liked by 1 person

  8. auntyuta Says:

    Reblogged this on AuntyUta and commented:
    This post of Gerard’s brought on quite a few comments.
    I intend to publish now on my site all the comments that I came up with to this post of Gerard’s. I hope, Gerard does not mind this. . . .


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