Thursday, 12 December 2013

The best funerals are the ones that make you rethink yours

A funeral always makes you sad, sometimes makes you smile and remember your lost one. Time to reminisce and to feel your loss in a public space, where you know you are surrounded by others who also loved the person whose life you are celebrating.


Today I attended a funeral for a beautiful lady who died far too young and seemingly for no good reason - cancer just picked on her, just as her youngest son was graduating and just before Christmas. I don't know why this should make it sadder but when celebrating a birth that affected the world, it just seems like awful timing to lose someone so unnecessarily.

However, amongst the tributes and the sorrow and - yes - the humour, God bless her! - I found myself thinking about my own mortality and how I'd like my funeral to be. How I want to be remembered and what I want my eulogy to contain.

Do you find yourself wondering what people will remember you for? Me, I think it'll be one of the following
  • the ditsy blonde who, despite a university degree, could be remarkably naive and yes a bit stupid!
  • a girl who made you laugh, even at her own expense
  • a chronic sufferer from depression, who whilst she was making people laugh, behind the scenes was crying inside?
  • an argumentative witch, always arguing with her husband and with her kids

I resolved to change these things, as I'd rather people remembered me as
  • a clever and intelligent person - always willing to share her knowledge and to learn from others
  • a strong woman, who always put her family first
  • a Mum who was always so proud of her children and how they turned out
  • a great friend, who always had a shoulder for others to cry on

 If I really want them to remember me the way I want to be remembered, it's time to change.

I will do my best to change in time for my own funeral. You didn't need to as you were perfect the way you were.

To MW - Rest In Peace, and thank you xx


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

5 Books to read before I die

OK, so I'm a reader - I read, therefore I'm educated - right? Wrong! I read because
  1. I like to dabble in lots of things
  2. it makes me look interesting
  3. other people's views interest me - it is possible that I may be wrong about some things!
  4. I aspire to be someone else
  5. I want to appear educated
  6. you never stop learning!
  7. all of the above!
On my table right now and the reasons why are:
  • The Long Walk to Freedom, by Nelson Mandela
    • Now that the Great Madeba has passed on, it's really about time I knew more about this amazing and inspiring man - what made him the man he was and what his legacy will be for both the world at large and for me as an individual
  • a copy of The Economist - World in 2014
    • this has become an Alley Cat tradition - I have all from 1999! I like to read them the year after to check how right they were, though that's subjective! 
    • The current issue I dip into and try to understand - see item 4!
  • The Sibling Society, by Robert Bly
    • Sadly, this one's now out of print and is a deep and meaningful tome into the kind of society we have already become, with adults behaving like teenagers and teenagers behaving as if they were kids, etc
    • a difficult one to read at length as it relies on fables and their relationships to modern contexts, which I do find hard to digest, but the primary message is that we are becoming very much the 'me' generation we thought our teens ought to be, with our "I want and I want it now" attitude to life
  • 2 Very Short Introductions to [I include both as one book as they aren't long nor detailed enough to warrant being one book on this list!. Included simply because I want to understand both subjects, just a little bit!
    • Economics
    • Psychology
  • photographer Andy Rouse's signed copy of "Little Owls"
    • a beautiful series of wildlife photos of our cutest owl taken by the uber-talented Andy, whose live presentations are at once touching, funny and meaningful with his emphasis on conservation and the advantages of eco-tourism to the countries that promote it
    • catch up with Andy and find out about his latest tour dates on his facebook page
Oh - and this one's a bit of an extra 'cos I wanna be down with the kids! The latest issue of 'Power Play' rock & metal magazine. My kids are really into Skillet and I want to give a big thumbs up to the host of Christian heavy rock bands there seem to be around right now! As lead singer, John Cooper said in a recent documentary I caught - "we're heavy metal without the swearing and the drugs!". Even if you're not a Christian, that's a great message!


Sharing simultaneous experiences - or not...

Just read a scary article this morning whilst waiting to see the GP [now that's another post for later...]:

2014 will see fewer of us actually sitting around the TV together. The days of everyone sharing the experience of a common interest eg Dr Who; Strictly...; the X Factor, etc but actually experiencing it together are over.

We will see families who may be in the same room but are watching completely different material, via our ipods, ipads, mobile phones, notebook PCs, iPlayer [on the TV box!].

We now expect to access whatever we wish, whenever we wish, however we wish and we can even watch the same programme but at different times. We can no longer all sit down to watch an episode of Downton Abbey without wondering if someone has already seen it, or wants to watch it later [no spoiler alerts please].

Indeed, the days of watching an educational documentary and discussing it round the table afterwards seem to have vanished in a nostalgic haze. There seems no reason to discuss if we haven't all seen it together.

We can't then exchange ideas or opinions and as a result will we ever really get to understand even members of our own family? This is quite tragic, as we now won't be sitting down to eat together as we all have different meals at different times, from different sources. We are in danger of not getting to know our children and what makes them tick. How did the programme make them feel? What can we do to fix the issues highlighted? Did you find the monsters even remotely scary? Why did that make you laugh?

Is there even an issue here? I think there is - we now have no reason to share anything. Once our children get up and become physically independent, we could easily find ourselves more remote from each other than ever, even if we are all still living under the same roof. It will be all too easy to take the lazy [read "human"] way out and just go with the flow, or we will have to regiment ourselves to organise family mealtimes so that we have at least one day a week to be together without any distractions [for the Alley Cat family, that's traditional Sunday roast round the table in the dining room - no TV, no music. OK so there's lots of bickering, but hey that's part of being a family - you can agree to disagree but it doesn't mean anyone has to back down! - another blog?!]; we'll also need to structure our chat around what we may and may not have seen or heard, to allow for anyone to catch up using 'on-demand' before we discuss Radio Three's concert, or get comments from facebook to use as ammunition!

I'm not sure that this is progress? It sounds dangerously as if families, already split geographically in most cases, will now be split further by the lack of opportunity to actually share a simultaneous experience.

How can we ensure that we not only live together but share together in this brave future of individualism and self-centred experiences? Over to you...