Two of my relatives died during the last few months. My mother’s father’s brother died on Anzac Day (25 April), and my maternal grandmother died on 11th May.
I only saw Uncle Max occasionally when he was alive, and almost invariably in the context of a large family gathering with lots of other people around. He owned a pine plantation which had a lovely fairy-tale atmosphere when I was a child (I once went looking for wolves there; in reality there are at best foxes). He was also into woodcarving, and had a pool table that he made himself, as well as a joke pool cue — made from a twisty branch of wood — which he explained was for a professional pool player to use when playing against him if the opportunity ever arose. He used to sing bass in choirs and musicals, but that was mostly before I knew him. I don’t remember ever talking to him about music.
The other death was that of my grandmother, known to me as Grandnan. By the end of her life she was bedridden in the nursing home, unable to speak and — at the very end — even to swallow due to the cumulative effect of many minor strokes. Yet she was at peace, intellectually alert, and never lost her sense of humour. The last time I saw her alive, I played some Flanders and Swann songs to her from CD. I intended in the last few months to compile a CD of my favourite music as a gift for her, but I never got around to doing this. Her husband David is now my last surviving grandparent, and is still living in the nursing home.
Grandnan’s funeral was a first for me in that it was the first time I have ever spoken officially at a funeral. Here is the full text of my address. It ends with some music that I’ve dedicated to her.
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