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I had a call a couple of hours ago from a close friend of many years. Her partner of 25 years died a day or two ago aged 62. I could tell from her voice that she was just about holding things together but that keeping busy for her was a way of coping.
She was organising a funeral the like of which I'll probably never see again.
Her other half loved his beer, liked a pint or two each day, never drinking to excess but just enjoyed the banter, atmosphere and social side of having a 'pint' with the lads after work.
His passing was sudden, unexpected, although he had been ill and was actually having tests when it happened.
The funeral, complete with eco friendly cardboard coffin (what a great idea!), will have all us bringing a beermat from our favourite tipple to be placed on the coffin prior to the cremation. We've been encouraged to bring brightly coloured felt tip pens to write a last message to our much loved friend and see him on his way. His bike, he loved to cycle around the area, will be wheeled in after the coffin. After the funeral it will be left in a layby for someone to take and use on their own adventures, hopefully having as much fun as it's previous owner.
Music includes the Rolling Stones and many of his favourites, mostly rock, always lively and definitely eclectic.
It's not really hit home yet, and I can't begin to imagine how my friend is feeling right now, thankfully their daughter was at home from uni and being a very capable young woman has been a tower of strength just like her Dad.
I'm sure life will seem very strange in the short term as we all get used to his absense. But for me, this rather unusual funeral offers a chance to celebrate the life and character of a unique, quirky, often surprising, always generous, intelligent, witty, intuitive and amusing man who was the love of my friends life. He helped many people in his path through life and was incredibly modest about his positive impact on others.
My 7 year old son adored his childlike sense of wonder, humour, his willingness to try new things, visit new places and take joy in each day. That's the man I'd intend to remember and keep in my heart.