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Thread: January 1965

  1. #1
    Senior Member ChrisGeorge's Avatar
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    Default January 1965

    Dead people. Not nice to view. I can still remember when my Nanna died in Liverpool in January 1965 at age 67 -- she was born August 4, 1897 in Gateshead, County Durham. It was around the time of my seventeenth birthday, and I had gone back to live with my grandparents after spending five years in school in the United States... I was homesick. By early '65, I was at Quarry Bank High School for Boys, where John Lennon went around a decade earlier (the Beatles were originally known as the Quarrymen); some of the boys had books with his name in them.

    My Nanna had been diagnosed with angina. She died at Sefton General Hospital on Smithdown Road. She had an enlarged heart from getting rheumatic fever as a girl. The doctors asked my Grandad if they could kindly have the heart for research. Grandad refused. Good for him. I don't know what I would feel about such a request today. Since I work in health care it occurs to me that such a chance to examine the heart might have advanced science. Or not. Mmmm.


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    I think today it's a bizarre ritual but my grandfather chose to have the open coffin in the lounge. That was the "posh" room at the front of the house where we entertained guests and my Nanna had her best ornaments on the mantle piece and the windowshelf, in contrast to the dining room at the back of the house looking out on my grandad's rose garden and small greenhouse beyond the back lawn.

    When guests visited us, my grandfather would sit enthroned in the lounge drinking his favorite Teacher's scotch and smoking a Burma cheroot. It was also where we had our small lighted Christmas tree each festive season.

    I refused to go in and see the body when I was asked to do so, but late at night I did sneak in. My Nanna had cotton wool in her nostrils. It made her corpse appear even more other-worldly. I don't think that's something an American funeral home would do, and why they did it in England for Nanna I don't know.

    My Mum flew over from Baltimore for the funeral. It was around the time the aged former prime minister and Second World War leader Sir Winston Churchill died. On the black and white TV, we saw the Union Jack-draped coffin being paraded through the streets of London. He was ultimately buried at Bladon churchyard, Oxfordshire, within sight of Blenheim Palace where he had been born in 1874, a member of the family of the Duke of Marlborough whose ducal seat was Blenheim.

    No Union Jack-decorated coffin for Nanna. A long-time footballing friend of my Grandad's named "Uncle Bruce" had a funeral business. In the cold January air we climbed into shiny black limousines to follow the hearse to the crematorium at Anfield cemetery past leafless trees.

    Nanna has left me:
    the coffin disappears,
    curtains slowly close.


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    Christopher T. George
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    Senior Member kevin's Avatar
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    Chris,
    That's bizarre. My Nan died the same year and I had a very similar experience. The only difference was my Nan was 92 and my Grandad had died before I was born.
    She was laid out in the front room of her house in Makin St, Walton. I was expected to kiss her but I was 14 and the thought freaked me out. Years later I kissed my mum after she passed and it seemed the most natural way to say goodbye.
    Kevin

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    Senior Member burkhilly's Avatar
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    My granddad died around the late 60s. I remember going to my nans and everyone was sitting around the living room and under the window was the coffin. I'd never seen anything like it and never forgotten. I do beleive it was the norm at that time.

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    Senior Member ChrisGeorge's Avatar
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    Thank you, Kevin and burkhilly, for sharing your similar experiences.

    Chris
    Christopher T. George
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    perfectly normal, when i grew up in kirkby my best mate's dad jack was a merchant seaman, absolutely adored by all, and i mean that, anyway he died of heart disease in his early fifties

    when i went to the house they had the open coffin in the dining room at the end of the table and the whole family ate their meals there with jack in attendance

    they even joked that last night at dinner they thought jack had nicked a pork pie off the table

    he was such a nice man and so missed there was nothing morbid or sad at his presence, the only problem came when on the day of the funeral the funeral directors men came to take the coffin, they could not bear to part with him, then the tears came

    it was a wonderful experience and a great way to say goodbye

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    Senior Member brian daley's Avatar
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    My four grand parents all died within a 5 year period. Being away from Liverpool ,I could not physically attend their separate funerals.
    As a result ,my memory's of each of them is of a living being.Lives without end. The very first funeral I attended was that of my uncle Bill. It started off as a mournful occassion but,once the funeral rites had been completed ,we retired to a banquetting room and soon the tears began to dry and people turned to each tellig their own tale of the deceased. Laughter started to fill the air and Billy's widow,Sarah,turned to me and said "Billy would have loved this"
    Last edited by brian daley; 09-11-2010 at 10:25 AM. Reason: Spelling

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    Came fourth...now what? Oudeis's Avatar
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    Ho-hum.

    This may be an Irish habit or have something of the Victorian era about it, this laying-in-state. It is not something I heard of in Scotland, even among we RC.
    This did happen once, to the mother of an Irish friend of mine. The lady, Dimpna by name, Dimps for short. I use to tease her that Dimps was short for dimples, oh how we laughed. However seeing her 'at peace', lifeless and khaki coloured this image now hangs around like a water mark on any of the fond memories I have of her.
    As we travel on through life the road behind us becomes littered with corpses and memories of people and times past. I far prefer the memories of the lives that have touched mine to any death-mask image no matter how serene.
    Let us raise a pie to those happy times that shall live just as long as we do.

    ---------- Post added at 10:44 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:41 AM ----------

    Oh, all right.' Bestrewn' rather than littered.

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    Senior Member lindylou's Avatar
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    Yes, I think it may have it's roots in Irish tradition.
    Some cultures like the Irish and also the Caribbean community have their dead at home.

    I agree with Oudeis that sometimes it's better to remember the person in life and not how they looked in repose.
    I never went to view my grandmother for that very reason. I didn't want to have my last memory of her as how she looked in death.
    I was very close to her and we lived in the same house, but we never followed this tradition of having our deceased at home.

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    Came fourth...now what? Oudeis's Avatar
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    ...and what would it have been like before the mating habits of the 'death-watch-beetle' were discovered?
    With all that tap-tap-tapping throughout the night vigil.

    [it's probably just as well that the answer to the beetle noise came before morse code, there could have been many the strange message worked out ]

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    Senior Member lindylou's Avatar
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    Everyone has their own way of mourning. People do it their own way and are used to the way their family have done things.

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    Senior Member ChrisGeorge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lindylou View Post
    Yes, I think it may have it's roots in Irish tradition.
    Some cultures like the Irish and also the Caribbean community have their dead at home.

    I agree with Oudeis that sometimes it's better to remember the person in life and not how they looked in repose.
    I never went to view my grandmother for that very reason. I didn't want to have my last memory of her as how she looked in death.
    I was very close to her and we lived in the same house, but we never followed this tradition of having our deceased at home.
    Hi Lindy et al.

    I had to identify my mother's body at the funeral home in Baltimore prior to her cremation following her passing on August 24. It's Maryland law that you have to do that. . . I had forgotten, but I must have had to do the same thing with my father when he died of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma back in April 1979. I regret having to see her like that, shrunken and wizened was the impression--I only took a quick glance, just enough to say it was her to the undertaker. It was hard enough visiting her in the final days in the hospice. But like others who have kindly contributed to the thread, I prefer to remember the better memories of my Mum.

    Chris
    Christopher T. George
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    Senior Member lindylou's Avatar
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    Hi Chris, who knows what will be required of us at such times. Being an only child, this task may come to me also. Who knows.

    It's an interesting discussion and not meant to be depressing, but as your parents age, and indeed yourself getting older too, you do have to sometimes stop and consider the eventuality of these things.

    I still have both my parents but I can imagine that the passing of a parent must change you forever. You can't really predict how you might react in the situation. You may do things entirely different to how you would have thought.

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    Senior Member ChrisGeorge's Avatar
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    Hi Lindy

    Thanks, Lindy. Yes indeed it is hard. As you say, I am an only child which made it possibly even more difficult.

    It has dawned on me in recent days since her passing that my late Mum was not only my parent but a chum as well. I used to print out things for her about Liverpool FC and the city in general, partly for her interest and partly to keep her mind engaged and interested. After a while, though, I began to realise that she was no longer taking in what I was giving her, but still, I would try to keep giving her printouts right to near the end. Sad.

    I do wish you the best of luck with your parents. Thanks for sharing mention of your situation.

    All the best

    Chris
    Christopher T. George
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    Senior Member Billy D's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brian daley View Post
    My four grand parents all died within a 5 year period. Being away from Liverpool ,I could not physically attend their separate funerals.
    As a result ,my memory's of each of them is of a living being.Lives without end. The very first funeral I attended was that of my uncle Bill. It started off as a mournful occassion but,once the funeral rites had been completed ,we retired to a banquetting room and soon the tears began to dry and people turned to each tellig their own tale of the deceased. Laughter started to fill the air and Billy's widow,Sarah,turned to me and said "Billy would have loved this"
    i remember me mum took me and our Bobby to see Ninny Daley after she passed away...she was at her house in tintern street,,she was in her bed,,,we were only about 7 and 8 years of age,,and she looked her same old self...she was a luvly woman,,,always think about her..Also i will never forget me Grandad Daley as he Died on my Birthday...still picture him now walking down tintern street with his three piece suit....and mop of white hair,,,,Take a powder ringing in my ears,,,

    Bill

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    Senior Member ChrisGeorge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy D View Post
    i remember me mum took me and our Bobby to see Ninny Daley after she passed away...she was at her house in tintern street,,she was in her bed,,,we were only about 7 and 8 years of age,,and she looked her same old self...she was a luvly woman,,,always think about her..Also i will never forget me Grandad Daley as he Died on my Birthday...still picture him now walking down tintern street with his three piece suit....and mop of white hair,,,,Take a powder ringing in my ears,,,

    Bill
    Thanks, Bill. I will always regret not being able to attend my maternal grandfather's funeral. He died at age 94 in February 1987. Of course I was in the United States and working at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. We had a snowstorm at the time and I was appearing in a play at the time in Baltimore's old seaport area, Fells Point... and I simply could not leave the rest of the cast and the director in the lurch. So I could only imagine the funeral service at Allerton Church. As I have mentioned before I went back to Liverpool to go to school and after my grandmother died in 1965, my Grandad and I lived together for three years until I re-emigrated to the United States in August 1968.

    Chris
    Christopher T. George
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