Thursday, 7 January 2010

Lessons from a funeral

I went to a funeral today. A funeral of a member of the SNP. It was a woman I didn't know particularly well but I'd met her on a number of occasions and liked her. I've known her partner Sam for quite a bit longer. As I say I didn't know her very well but it was one of those funerals where I left really wishing I'd known her better.

Sam spoke about her so movingly. His voice didn't falter once and that made it all the more stark and all the more moving. He spoke very simply and honestly about the woman who was his "whole world for 24 years". He said all the things you'd want to be said about you - talked about how beautiful, glamorous, classy, warm, intelligent and witty she was. And he made us laugh when he recalled an argument they had which ended with him saying "but I devote my entire life to you" and her replying "well it isn't enough" :-) He talked about her passions and her attitude to life and I really was left feeling I'd missed out on something by not getting to know her better.

I've only experienced that at one other funeral and that was the lovely John McFarlane who was a member of Govan SNP and died well into his 80s. I knew John quite well, I'd been to visit him once or twice and there was no doubt about it he was great company. But I realised at his funeral there was so much more to him and his life than I'd realised. He was a truly fascinating character and I regretted not knowing him better.

My point is that I think it's a symptom of today's mad world we all live in, that we are so busy getting by, we don't stop and get to know people properly. Another member of the SNP is a man who is 82 and I've "known" him for a good number of years. Last year I bumped into him in the pouring rain and offered him a lift. He told me a story about his youth in the merchant navy when he and his shipmates were kidnapped. It was the most amazing adventure / horror story, my heart was in my mouth at points of the story and it beat any movie I'd seen.

Everyone has something truly amazing about them, I'm sure of it. Everyone has a tale to tell but how often do we want to hear it? I resolved, as I left the funeral today, to stop being so busy and take more time to really get to know other people. Sam paid a wonderful tribute to the love of his life today and I'm sure I wasn't the only one who left knowing they'd missed out on somebody very special.

So keep your eyes and ears open as you plough your way through life's minefield because there are fascinating people all around us if we care to notice.

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