Gardening Magazine

A Selfish Indulgence

By Patientgardener @patientgardener
  • A Selfish IndulgenceToday was one of those achingly wonderful English summer days.  As I drove through the windy country roads of West Worcestershire there was not a cloud in the bright blue sky, the fields looked abundant with their hay or corn crops and you could hear crickets humming.

My destination was a small village church dating from Medieval times set on a small hill overlooking the rolling countryside.  Despite arriving half an hour early I only just managed to park in the tiny car park and join the others standing in the glorious sunshine.  Sadly our purpose was not to celebrate a marriage or a death but to give thanks for Dot’s life.

Dot was a work colleague of mine who died unexpectedly about two weeks ago.  Her death and my reaction to it both took me by  surprise.  I have, if I am honest, felt embarrassed at how profoundly I reacted to the news.  Dot was a good work friend, we had worked together in some difficult situations for the last couple of years.  However, it was Dot’s special talents which made her so important to me in what I can only describe as a selfish way. Dot was one of those special people who not only knew how to listen but was able to draw you out without you realising it.  These were  important skills for her job helping young people with mental health problems. She also had wonderful compassion and empathy.  Don’t get me wrong she wasn’t one of those people who feels sorry for people and says ‘ there,  there, yes you have had a rubbish time, you have every right to feel sorry for yourself.’  No, she would listen and she would help you put things into context, scale if you like, and help you move forward without you really realising she had done this.

Since I lost my sister unexpectedly about 18 months ago Dot has/was a huge tower of strength to me.  We never sat down to deliberately discuss it but I found it easy to chat with her about all sorts and sometimes this led to my sister or my niece or my parents and my struggles with their grief and it was easy with Dot to talk about things without getting upset or trying to hide feelings.

As I have said her death has had a profound effect on me and I have felt ashamed that my grief for Dot has been more obvious than for my sister.  However, today sitting in that medieval church, looking at the fading murals on the wall and wondering about the age of the faded oak roof beams I listened to others talk about her and her impact on their and her students’ lives.   Out in the sunshine I shared my feelings with someone who in the last 2 years as been diagnosed with cancer and lost her husband to cancer.  She too had found the experience of Dot’s death overwhelming and talking we realised that maybe this was a catalyst for us to face our grief, me for my sister and her for her own cancer.  Whilst we talked of such sad and tragic things, we also speculated on Dot’s age – no one seemed to know how old she was, she had kept it a secret from friends and work colleagues to her grave, it didn’t even appear on the order of service.  Typical of Dot – a warm and giving person who let you think you knew her but who actually was a very private lady.

We adjourned to a local country pub and sat in the sun.  Not the time to be putting on sun cream but it was needed.  We smiled that Dot would be laughing at us all getting burnt.  It was nice, my embarrassment turned to thanks and appreciation of how lucky I had been to know such a kind lady who had touched so many people ( the church was overflowing), who had helped me, often without my realising, through some very dark times.  I wish she was still here to share things with, to gossip with, to discuss shoes and which actor in Law and Order Uk was the most fanciable -  but she isn’t.  I will miss her terribly but I can move forward now feeling a little braver and a little less embarrassed at showing my feelings and emotions.

I do  not apologise for this post which some may see as a self-indulgence.  I find it helpful to write about my feelings, they clear my mind and I have no other way of telling Dot how much she meant to me.

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