I had a grandmother once. (I had two, as a matter of fact, and they — unlike my grandfathers, who were fragile men and died before their wives, one long his children were grown, the other when I was three — were instrumental in bringing me up. I had many mothers. But I digress.)
I had a grandmother once, who observed this: the end of a year is like a tide going out, and it takes many things with it when it goes. Now there is no logical reason why this should be so, but it seems to be.
Death is all around us.
Today I got the news that a contemporary, a distant friend but more than an acquaintance, a member of a family who have been friends of mine for longer than I’ve been alive, a man who was difficult but whom I admired and loved for his uncompromising honesty, was found dead yesterday.
On Wednesday I heard that an old, dear friend of my aunt’s, and a part of my childhood, died in hospital.
On Tuesday I got the news that another friend and colleague had had a passing stroke. He survived — there was no obvious damage — but his mortality was confirmed.
Last Saturday I sat through a funeral of an old, old acquaintance, a man I have known all my life.
We are all keeping a vigil on another colleague, a great man, who is suffering from terminal cancer. He may last the year, but we are prepared in any event.
The end of a year is like a tide going out. My grandmother, in characteristic form, didn’t wait for the tide, but left us in May, in spring. But it doesn’t mean she was wrong.
Merry Christmas all. Hug a friend. Turn anger into love, if only for a day. Don’t regret what you didn’t do. Life is more fragile than we think.