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Monday, 19 July 2010

When is a bench more than a bench?

When Mum was bed-bound in the latter stages of terminal cancer, she made plans. She told me that she wanted a bench bought and placing at the crematorium. Her thinking was that Dad would need somewhere to rest when he visited the crematorium with flowers. Dad is bad with his legs and often in pain so she was thinking of his welfare.

Following her death, Dad enquired whether he could have a bench but the crematorium said he could not as they no longer were adding benches to the grounds. Mum has stressed she did not want a tree so Dad started stressing about where he could get a bench and where he should put it.

At this point, my eldest brother offered to pay for a bench but Dad would not accept that. He spoke at length to me about the bench and I felt so fed up with it. The only reason she wanted a bench was for Dad's sake so, to me, once the crematorium said no, that should have ended the matter.

So in the 10 months since she passed away, Dad has fretted about getting the bench sorted. What type of bench should it be? Where should it be placed? What should be written on it? I have found it very hard to feign interest in the subject.

Finally, the bench has arrived ordered from the internet. It upset Dad a bit when it arrived flat packed but he seemed to feel better when he went to a shop to order a plaque for it. He spent ages trying to get the wording right and what he has put is fine. It's just that it does not move me. Like my son, I would have liked the bench, if we had to have one, to be placed in a public place that Mum had loved so that people would wonder who she was and how she lived her life. Dad has decided it will go in his garden (not hers as he moved following her death) and at the back so it does not get nicked.

Last week, he dutifully took photographs of the finished product and sent them to me via email. Still, I can't work up interest but know I must for his sake.

We visited this weekend and he insisted on me going to look at the bench so I took my two youngest children with me too as he seemed to want to make some sort of event of it. I asked my daughter to read the plaque which she did out loud. It just gives my Mum's name, date of death and says she was a loving wife, mother and grandma. All went well until we hit the R.I.P. bit which my daughter just read as the word "rip". This amused me but of course smiling was not the thing to do and Dad looked really moved and affected. I guess we all do grief in our own ways and losing your life partner must be devestating.

So the issue is resolved. Should we sit on it or look at it? The problem is in the year after a death, everyone thinks too much. Trying to do and say the right thing.

My husband found a grave in a field next to my Dad's bungalow when he went to retrieve a frisbee. It was for "Marley" presumably an animal. I said that was cool as Mum loved Bob Marley. Dad said maybe it was Jacob Marley. My husband told me later he felt totally insenstive for even mentioning the grave. Thinking too much ...

So when is a bench more than a bench? When it makes a widower feel that he has done what his late wife wanted and can be at peace with that.

1 comment:

  1. That's lovely that your dad is at peace with it though sad that he stressed over it. I'm sure that is not what your mum wanted for him. Yes, we do too much thinking at certain times, the quiet after death is one of them. Hopefully things can move on emotionally for your family now. I think the first year (full of so many emotional firsts) is always the hardest. After that, there are other firsts, but not as many. Thanks for writing this.