What will survive of us is love

I’ve been thinking about my funeral.

There’s cheerful.

Well, it is actually. I’m not feeling morbid or having a premonition or anything. Just hearing an old love song that’s part of an advertising campaign on UK telly at the moment and thinking, yes, I’d like that one played at my funeral.

I do believe that what will survive of us is love. It’s the last line of Larkin’s poem An Arundel Tomb, and uncharacteristically upbeat of the cynical old bugger who famously wasn’t too keen on it after he wrote it. But whether he believed it or not, I do.

I also believe that all we need is love is all we need. You can call me a hippy and a Beatles fan if you want. They’re not bad things to be.

Love is the centre of my existence. It informs everything I think and do. Not constantly and often not in the heat of a moment. I’m no saint. But eventually, inevitably, everything comes down to love. And I’m fortunate to be surrounded by it. Enveloped in it. Carried through life on it.

I wrote this poem for my wife a few years after a traumatic event nearly killed me and left me crippled, during a setback that had us wondering how far my recovery to mobility would go and had me unsure of how long I had left in me. I hope someone will read this in the service too. It’s called Planting for Spring.


The smoky memory of this afternoon
will live forever.
I sat in the wheelchair, wrapped up
in fallen leaves and drifts of sleep,
while you kneeled in the mellow sun
to plant tulips and snowdrops.
Remember how much I love you.

Your eyes are warm daylight.
Your brave smile my summer
and your hair, my fiery autumn.
We are together now but eventually,
you know, we’ll walk into winter alone.
You are already closer to the earth.
You always were. Remember:

stay close.
Hold tight through the long night,
and when the snow has melted
my shroud your tulips and snowdrops
will renew the spring in your step.
And remember how much I love you.


That’s the message I want to leave my loved ones. I love them. I’ve always loved them. My love for them is bigger than me and it will survive my death.

So here’s the song.

Nancy Wilson – How Glad I Am

What song, reading, or message would you like your loved ones to hear at your funeral?

This weekend in Bridger Hollow

Yesterday didn’t start well. We’re all knackered, Janette and Bev and me. It’s been a long, hot and humid week for all of us. Hottest city in the country Thursday and second hottest yesterday. So it was pleasant for the other two to leave their alarm clocks off and for me to settle comfortably with a lovely cup of coffee and my computer in the quiet of a Saturday morning.

The door went at 7.30. Heather was on the doorstep with a tearful Seb in her arms. “We’ve got ants!”

“Yeah? And?”

“They’re everywhere.” She shuddered. “Like nits.”

Seb toddled to the toy box and got out the big noisy fire engine.

Jackie pulled up outside with Gabe in his baby seat.

“They were coming to us for the day but I rang her to say we’ve got ants in the living room carpet.”

Seb and Gabe whooped with joy when they saw each other. They started running up and down the corridor with big wheeled plastic toys.

Janette staggered down the stairs in her nightie. “WTF?”

Bev followed close behind in her pyjamas. “WTF?”

In the space of a single minute our house went from peaceful sleepy morning with birdsong floating through the open windows to a madhouse containing three generations of tired, fractious people including two shrieky toddlers and all the birds had flown away. Probably. I couldn’t hear them anyway.

And that’s how it continued until mid-afternoon when they went home, Heather having procured ant extermination spray or something from the garden centre up the road, and both boys having joined me in the study for naps at various times. That was okay for me because I got to close the curtains and work quietly in the cool and dark, but neither nap lasted as long as they normally would.

Meanwhile Janette had spent hours up in the hot airless loft, where she’s been pretty much all the time since Thursday, clearing it out in preparation for our new insulation and boarding that’s happening Monday. Tomorrow.

Oh, and at some point in the day of madness Janette invited everyone here for Sunday dinner today. So that’ll be the same as yesterday plus two husbands.

Two robins just danced for me on top of the hip-high wall just outside my study window and wood pigeons are cooing from the trees. I think they understand.

Previously, in Bridger Hollow

Took a day off yesterday, which turned out to be a good idea because every cold caller in the history of unwanted interruptions decided we were the right people to sell to. Our name must have come up on a secret roster or something.

Everyone except one of the maintenance gardeners I’d found in the Yellow Pages, who’d promised to come and see our place at 10 but didn’t even phone to say he wasn’t going to bother. Maybe he got caught up in the traffic jam of people on their way to knock on our door because they couldn’t get through on our permanently engaged phone.

At teatime a different gardener returned my call. He’s coming this afternoon.

And, Cartooni have changed their schedule for half term so Seb and I didn’t even get to watch Fireman Sam!

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