Unless you work in a funeral parlour or something, the language of death, arriving right slap in the rawness of your grief, comes as an experience both surreal and funny.
The first thing that happens, in Britain at any rate, is that your family doctor certifies that the recently departed is actually dead, and there's nothing suspicious about it.
|The Doctor's Jaunty Tie|
Naturally, my sister and I wanted new outfits for the funeral. Even when you know someone's going to die, there's a reticence about going out to choose your special frock before the event. After our mother passed way, without thinking we arranged this ludicrous schedule, making sure that when we felt that urge to shop, one was always available to stay at home.
|Feeling That Urge to Shop|
Another thing that made us fall about laughing was a Cockney superstition that my Nana, born and bred in London's 'East-End', taught us. If you hear of a death, then the next two people you hear of in the same predicament will go to Heaven with the first one. So for example, our local butcher died this week and will now go to the abode of the angels arm-in-arm with the critic Brian Sewell and the much-loved writer of erotic fiction, Jackie Collins.
Clearly this sweet old fairy tale dates back to the time when London was a collection of small communities centred around the docks, the alleys etc. To Ma and me, it didn't matter a jot that there were millions of people in the world and hundreds of deaths per day. We still applied the theory, to gales of laughter, every time we heard of a death in the news or in our part of town.
So for what it's worth, my mother, who died on 2 July 2015, went to Heaven with Val Doonican and Omar Sharif. And boy, won't she remind us of that one next time we see her.
Parting is hell.
But life goes on;
So sing as well.