Writing a blog can be cathartic

Today, Tuesday 21st August, my darling dad, known to the family as Pa, was cremated and we were not there to see him off.

Pa (94) had advanced Alzheimer’s, died peacefully in his sleep on Sunday 12th in Guernsey. I really lost him over a year ago when he didn’t know who I was anymore.

He was not religious and didn’t believe in an after life “When you are dead, you are dead, you can put my body in the dustbin”. For me I always found that concept difficult but had to accept and respect we have different ways of looking at death. Before horrible Alzheimer’s claimed him, he said when he died he wanted a memorial service only.

Why were we not at his cremation?

No family or friends live in Guernsey and we all agreed rather than fly to Guernsey for a cremation service only to bring his ashes back to the UK, it would be more sensible to have a Direct Cremation and then repatriate his ashes for a Memorial service. Anyway my eldest daughter is on crutches with her leg in a boot from knee to ankle and my brother has broken his wrist and is in plaster which would have made it all the more difficult!

A Direct cremation

“A direct cremation, is for those who would prefer a simpler choice for their funeral. It’s different to a traditional funeral as there is no funeral service and no one present at the cremation. It’s for those, who for lots of reasons, prefer not to have a funeral service. This option of a simple, straightforward cremation is now being chosen by a growing number of people”.

I don’t regret that decision but this morning I sat and cried because my lovely Pa was going into a large incinerator without any family goodbyes. My Mum died last year and before her death I could never come to terms with burial versus cremation. Mum was adamant to be buried and surprisingly I found the idea of being buried easier to cope with. She now has a headstone and plants on her grave. Although her spirit left her body, I have somewhere to go to talk to her.

Getting the ashes back to England is not easy. The undertakers in Guernsey had originally said they would post them to a local funeral director. Although it would have been in a sealed container, we laughed at the vision of him arriving in a Jiffy bag. However Royal Mail, for insurance reasons, no longer accept human remains, so we have to arrange for a courier.

In his Will Pa requested, much to our surprise, that his ashes be scattered at sea. This is an interesting event to arrange. Whilst not exactly a scattering, there are water urns.

Water urns

Biodegradable urns when placed in water will float briefly and then gracefully sink to the bottom, where they break down naturally over time. This prevents blow back.

A work colleague of mine scattered a relatives ashes on a lake and everything blew back in their faces, they couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry.

Did you know there are companies that hire out boats for the purpose of scattering ashes at sea? They will take a small party out, in our case this would be in The Solent (Pa grew up in Southampton, so that seems appropriate), it will moor so we can say our goodbyes with promise messages.

Promise messages

The notepaper which will completely dissolve in water, you write your wish, thoughts, or promises and then cast it into the water with the ashes.

Pa was always a ‘party man’ and lived the good life to the full, so he would totally endorse us hiring a company who also provided champagne and M&S sandwiches afterwards. Obviously, this will have to be done when family members have their various limbs out of plaster.

Rest in Peace my darling Pa, I will miss you so much.

As for me? Each life event has a stress level number. With Mum dying last year, retiring from work at the end of January, moving into a new area at the end of April, missing close friends and my garden and now Pa dying, my level is extremely high and I am really struggling. However, there is always light at the end of the tunnel and I will get there eventually. Writing this has helped.

This is Where I Now Live – Emsworth, Hampshire

It really is Flaming June at the moment and after an hour on the allotment this morning I was beginning to feel completely sapped of energy so came home. No more gardening for me today!   After lunch in fear of falling asleep I decided it would be good thing to go for a walk instead and take a few photos of my new home, Emsworth.  Disappointed that the tide was out and the whole harbour had turned green, I still decided to take photos.

 

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Emsworth is part of Chichester Harbour and was built in 1215.  It has had a number of small industries over the centuries including boat building, brewing and oyster fishing. However the oyster industry ended in 1902 when sewage polluted the oysters.   These days it is well known for sailing and has two yacht clubs.

It is a tidal harbour and as you can see from above the tide was well and truly out today.  If you look carefully  the Spinnaker Tower  in Portsmouth is in the distance.

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There is a harbour walk ‘promanade’ which runs between the Mill Pond and the open harbour.  It was odd today to see the difference between the water level on one side and the other. I walked along here with a friend earlier this year before I moved here, and it was icy cold. Today although hot there was a cooling breeze, which as much nicer.

Emsworth is quaint in many ways, lacking any shops of substance and no banks. Amongst the few old fashioned shops there is a baker, a couple of butchers, a fish shop, hardware store (a bit jumbly like and Aladdin’s Cave) a Co-Op and a chemist – all you need really.   There is however no shortage of cafes, pubs and restaurants.  I have included a photo of The Flintstones Tearooms which is on the harbour and a rather expensive but good restaurant called Fat Olives.  I’ve not been there, but I understand it is tiny, it certainly looks it from the outside.  There is a hotel in the centre of Emsworth called The Crown which is a Grade II coaching inn dating back to the 16th century.

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This is the Mill Pond taken from the other end as you leave the town.  So tranquil with its ducks

There is is no shortage of flower displays in Emsworth and placed along the main road are delightful rowing boats planted up with colourful petunias and geraniums.

Next time I decide to go for a walk to take photos I will check the tide time first.  It really is a delightful place to live and even more picturesque when the tide is in.