Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Reflections On Life

Yesterday I attended a funeral for someone I've never met.  His wife had only seen me once and that was when I was three weeks old: and probably asleep.

The man was my mother's uncle, Tommy Atkins, aged 97.  He and his wife, Pearl, had been married for 69 years and lived in the same house for 67 of those years.  In his time he'd been a merchant seaman and a firefighter in WW2.

It was Pearl's wish that we did not commiserate, but celebrate his life.  So we did.

Although I had never met any of the people before, including two of my mother's cousins, I did two of the things I do best:  I listened and drank tea.

Tommy was a remarkable man.  Still driving until a few years ago and still doing DIY until his late 80s.  He must have had some harrowing experiences during the war, trying to put out fires whilst bombs were falling.  As for his experiences at sea and in ports around the world, I can only guess at what he saw.

His memories died with him, but the memory of the man didn't.  It will live on in those who knew him well and in the stories that will be told for a number of years by his family.

One day that will happen to me and this year I have begun to see that I probably have less life in front of me than behind me.  If I live till I'm 70, 23 years left.  That's long enough.

As I sat through the service and listened to the songs that had been chosen (Heart of Glass by Blondie being one of them) I wondered what song I would like to be 'my' theme tune.  The song I keep coming back to is 'One More Arrow', by Elton John.  I don't know how people will remember me, this is how I hope people will remember me.

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He said I want to grow up
And look like Robert Mitchum
And I hope that when I'm gone
There'll be some say that I miss him
He must have been romantic
He must have sensed adventure
And I feel the steel of his strong will
In the frame around his picture
 
And he's one more arrow flying through the air
One more arrow landing in a shady spot somewhere
Where the days and nights blend into one
And he can always feel the sun
Through the soft brown earth that holds him
Forever always young
 
He could have been a boxer
But the fight game seemed so dirty
We argued once he knocked me down
And he cried when he thought he'd hurt me
Strictly from the old school
He was quiet about his pain
And if one in ten could be that brave
I would never hate again
 
One more arrow
One more arrow
One more arrow
Forever always young
 
 
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