Tuesday, March 20, 2007

They’re burying one of my kin today

My dad's Uncle Charlie died last Tuesday. I'm not sure why they waited a week to bury him.

But more than that, I'm not sure why my family didn't tell me until 8pm on Sunday.

I rang my sister on Friday morning. She didn't mention it.

I rang my mum at 6pm on Sunday to wish her Happy Mother's Day. She didn't mention it.

My nan rang me at 8pm Sunday to thank me for her birthday card. She said, "I expect you've heard about Uncle Charlie..." and proceeded to tell me. "Well, we've all gotta go sometime," she said. She's cool, my nan. A very philosophical 79-year-old. The same age as Uncle Charlie. And she was the same age as Red's dad when he died. It must be weird when your peers start falling all around you...

I rang my dad. "You didn't tell me about Uncle Charlie." He replied that he thought someone else would have. "Your mum knows. Your sister knows."

I rang my sister on Monday. "How come you didn't tell me about Uncle Charlie when I spoke to you Friday?" She said that my mum had told her and said that she would tell me later so not to mention it (although why, I don't know). She never rang me later; and, as previously mentioned, she never said anything about it when I finally spoke to her two days later...

What's particularly galling is that I might have been able to get to the funeral if I'd known about it a few days ago, but with 36 hours' notice, there is no way I can swing things. Crazy family. My dad won't be there; he's working away. Uncle Charlie's wife won't be there; she's wheelchair-bound in an old folks' home.

There'll be other family representatives, including Charlie's kids, my mum, my dad's partner... Oh, the potential for this to go horribly wrong is huge. I should be grateful I'm not going to be there, really.

So, Uncle Charlie, this one's for you. You'll never have heard the song; it will have no meaning for you. But for me it seems like the perfect song for the occasion.

"Green and Grey"
The time I think most clearly, the time I drift away
Is on the bus ride that meanders up these valleys of green and grey
I get to think about what might have been and what may yet come true
And I get to pass a rainy mile thinking of you
And all the while, all the while, I still hear that call
To the land of gold and poison that beckons to us all
Nothing changes here very much, I guess you'd say it never will
The pubs are all full on Friday nights and things get started still
We spent hours last week with Billy boy, bleeding,
yeah queuing in Casualty
Staring at those posters we used to laugh at:
Never Never Land, palm trees by the sea
Well there was no need for those guys to hurt him so bad
When all they had to do was knock him down
But no one asks too many questions like that since you left this town.

And tomorrow brings another train
Another young brave steals away
But you're the one I remember
From these valleys of green and the grey.

You used to talk about winners and losers all the time -
as if that was all there was
As if we were not of the same blood family, as if we live by different laws
Do you owe so much less to these rain-swept hills
than you owe to your good self?
Is it true that the world has always got to be something
That seems to happen somewhere else?
For God's sake, don't you realise that I still hear that call?
Do you think you're so brave just to go running
to that which beckons to us all?

No, not for one second did you look behind you
As you were walking away
Never once did you wish any of us well
Those who had chosen to stay
And if that's what it takes to make it
In the place that you live today
Then I guess you'll never read these letters that I send
From the valleys of the green and the grey.

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Blogger cappy said...

not heard that son for soooo long, wasn't it on vagabonds?

oh well, sorry for your loss. just to say hi! i'm at home again!
full report and pics at my place!

20 March, 2007 09:54  
Blogger Tanya said...

Sorry for your loss, *.

And yes, families can be weird. They should have told you.

20 March, 2007 10:19  
Blogger Milla said...

I'm sorry for your loss *A, I am thinking of you.

Kin, see what kin can/doesn't mean? That's why I think about it so much.
The song you chose is very beautiful.
Un abbraccio.

20 March, 2007 10:58  
Blogger mister anchovy said...

sorry to hear about Uncle Charlie...

20 March, 2007 11:09  
Blogger apositivepessimist said...

Oh frig. My 1st thought was...Is it also Mothers Day here. Then it was naah no ads on the tele.

Cheers to yer Uncle Charlie [*].

20 March, 2007 11:11  
Blogger Pickled Olives said...

I'm sorry for your loss. Family is crazy.

20 March, 2007 11:26  
Blogger Karen said...

Sadly my first thought echoed positive pessimist's..."Was it mother's day? Oh Crap". I'm guessing it wasn't over here.

Very sorry to hear about the loss of your Uncle, *A. It's never easy when we have to say goodbye. And from the sounds of it, he was someone very special to you. Could they not have held some sort of service at the home where his wife is located so that she could say her goodbyes?

I really hope this doesn't sound callous but is this typical behaviour for your family? I remember you saying when your mother and her partner got engaged, they text'd you rather than telling you when they spoke to you on the phone. Having said that, when a family member passes away, the rest of the family doesn't always have a rational train of thought in the following days. Still doesn't seem to explain why they waited so long to tell you though...

Again, sorry about your loss.

20 March, 2007 11:36  
Blogger Biddie said...

Sorry about yer Uncle Charlie.
My family is the same way. I hear about news from Kitchener,(where I live)Ontario, from my brother in Halifax, Nova Scotia. That's oh, about 1500 miles away. He phoned to tell me that my fav aunt died last June. She lived a few miles away from me and we visited frequently. he hadn't seen her in years. I don't get it.
He still owes me for half of the flowers, too.

20 March, 2007 12:57  
Blogger Kate said...

I'm sorry to hear about your Uncle Charlie!

Love that song, (I have the album somewhere) it does seem very appropriate.

20 March, 2007 13:18  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Cappy: On the Thunder And Consolation album.

T: Families, by and large, seem to suck a bit.

Milla: Kin is weird. The evenings I hang my head in despair... You don't want to know... Grazie. E' una bella canzone, davvero.

Mr A: Cheers to you!

APP: Thanks, pet. Different mothers; different Mothers' Days. You had the Sydney Harbour Bridge to celebrate!

20 March, 2007 14:04  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Karen: Yeah, different day... My family, strange lot sometimes. Aren't they all? Closenes is a relative term, but it's weird my mum didn't mention it. I normally get a rundown of all the deaths in the town of people I may once have bumped into or gone to school with; but when it comes to family, nothing. Odd. Thanks, though.

Biddie: Don't it make you mad? I mean, really. Can't someone pick up a friggin' phone once in a while? Grrrr!

Kate: Thank you. Great song, great album. Dig it up and give it a play.

20 March, 2007 14:08  
Blogger ldbug said...

Oh, I'm so sorry about your Uncle! I'd be sooooo pissed at my family if they 'forgot' to tell me about the loss of a family member!

I like that song, never heard of it..

20 March, 2007 15:45  
Blogger cappy said...

thats the one! but it does have vagabonds on that album yes? got it on tape! and vagabonds on 12" vinyl! mmmmmm, vinyl.

20 March, 2007 16:02  
Blogger cappy said...

p.s. saw them at sheffield octogon years back, with the levellers supporting (before they all became middle class house owners!) got in through a toilet window!

wheres me clogs!

20 March, 2007 16:04  
Blogger cappy said...

and while i'm here, families? my parental unit and my sister came nowhere near the hospital this weekend! how shit is that?

20 March, 2007 16:06  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

I thought families love to tell each other horrible news.

Yes, a strange state of affairs...it's almost kind of funny, and irritating at the same time. I'm with Karen, why not go to the aunts house and set something up for her sake.

I don't know families can be so weird. And also can you imagine if you pulled something like that, you'd likely never hear the end of it. My mom's husband had a heart attack and huge surgery years ago and she insisted we not tell anybody about it...I was liek whats up with you? And why should I be part of this? Yikes...freaks

20 March, 2007 16:08  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

p.s. I meant to add...then recently when my dad died and my sister finally got a hold of our mom(his first wife) she was outraged that she was the last to hear about his death...and my isis was like, I left a million messages why didn't you call me back

fuck em all! ha ha!!!

20 March, 2007 16:09  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

LDB: I am a bit pissed, as it happens...

Cappy: y'know, i'm not nostalgic for vinyl. Big, clunky, easily damaged, heavy. Give me CDs any day. And new kids coming up now will be saying, "CDs? Big, clunky, easily damaged, heavy. Give me mp3 files any day." And so it goes... Families can be proper shite.

Candy: Yeah, my mum's normally good on the horrible-news front! Fuck 'em all is right! Also, and to Karen too, the home did set up a memorial with three hymns for the wife's benefit. Sorry, forgot to mention that.

20 March, 2007 16:13  
Blogger Martha Elaine Belden said...

i'm so sorry :(

loss everywhere, huh? i'm sorry you aren't able to attend the funeral.

my prayers are with you and your family (p.s. that song is awesome! what a fitting tribute)

20 March, 2007 19:47  
Blogger Four Dinners said...

Charlie won't mind

20 March, 2007 20:24  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Martha: Thanks, pet. Lots of loss this year, it seems. Not good.

4D: Nah, I guess he won't.

21 March, 2007 10:30  
Blogger _z. said...

sorry for your loss *(asterisk).

21 March, 2007 14:21  

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