Letters to my sons.

Trying to explain the world to two very small children.

Another death in the family.

without comments

Dear Son,

on Tuesday 23rd January 2007 we recieved the sad news that your Great Grandmother, Tantie Winnie, had died. Her death certificate says that she died around 9pm on the 22nd January – the difference being down to the 4 hour time difference between here and Trindad.

You mother was very upset and spent Tuesday organising flights to Trinidad for the three of us. We dropped her off at Stratford in the snow on Wednesday morning as she made her way to Trinidad and we followed on Thursday. The flight was split into two parts, London to Barbados and then Barbados to Trinidad. The first part was 8 hours although you fell asleep just before take off as we were taxing up the runway. When you woke up about an hours of the flight was over and you spent the next 30 minutes eating. That left 6 and a half hours of me entertaining you with books, walks around the plane, songs and watching bits of the inflight film.

We waited what seemed an age at Barbados before boarding the plane to Piarco International and by that time you were asleep. Your mother was waiting for us in Trinidad as was Uncle Wayne who gave us a lift to Tantie Winnies house where the wake was in full swing. Out the front people where playing cards and drinking, whilst around the back people where just drinking. The atmosphere was quite jolly and I found this a little odd at the time. While it was only coming up to 10pm Trinidad time it was coming up to 2am English time so you and I departed for our beds.

Around 4am Trinidad time you and I were both wide awake so we had a quick change and then went back to the wake that was still going on but with reduced numbers. I decided that you and I should stay on English time so we had our breakfast in the dark, you had your morning milk at 6.30am, lunch at 8am and afternoon sleep at 9am.

The funeral was a very emotional affair. The coffin was palced at the entrance to the church and opened so that the mourners could pass. When the service was ready to begin the coffin was closed and brought into church. Your mother read the eulogy she had written for your great grnadma, hymns were sung and prayers said. The coffin was then wheeled to the entrance of the church and opened again for the mourners not attending the burial to say good bye. We then moved off to the grave yard, the coffin was opened again and more songs and prayers were said. Finally the coffin was lowered into the grave and before the coffin could be covered with soil all the male great grand children were passed over hole, Uncle Wendel on one side passing you over to Garth. As the youngest great grand child you went last. Uncle Wendel is Winnies eldest grandson and Garth is her youngest – the symbolism to me was the unbreaking line of familly that goes back through the generations.

After the sadness of the funeral we went back to Winnie’s house for another party and the jovial mood returned. It was at this point that I realised that the whole funeral event; the wake, the funeral and the after party, were all about celebrating the life of the person, letting ones emotions out and then celebrating the life that continues, life shaped and improved for knowing and loving the deceased.

I sobbed like a good ‘un throughout most of the funeral – some of it was down to my anger and frustration at knowing my own death is unstopable and also because I never grieved properly for my own mother. The way the funeral was done in Trinidad was much better than in England, at my mothers funeral (your Grandma Audrey) I didn’t cry that much because it was hard to image the woman I knew as being so full of life was in the wooden box being paraded around. By opening the coffin in Trinidad it forces home the death of the person is a real way that unleashes (for me anyway) the grief. I now feel better about the death of my mother – I still miss her and i wish she was still here to see you walking and learning to talk – but I think my acceptance of her death is closer than it was before. And for that Tantie Winnie I am enternaly greatful.

Winnifred Theodora Babel  11th January 1920 - 22nd January 2007

Written by Administrator

February 1st, 2007 at 9:20 pm

Posted in Family

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