I am told a person can survive almost anything........ except of course death and having recently returned from my seventy two year old aunt's funeral, it is clear, despite battling with ill health for over twenty years, she had indeed survived many things.
After the inevitably sad formal proceedings, family and friends were invited to her home of thirty years to enjoy afternoon tea in her meadow garden, view the beautiful watercolour illustrations she painted throughout her life and reacquaint ourselves with familiar faces from our formative years. Evidence of my aunt's knack for survival soon took centre stage as we gathered around the hundred foot oak tree which stood next to her cottage. Its blackened frame rose proud and charred over what remained of a greenhouse she had mistakenly set fire to earlier in the year. We concluded that, but for the help of nine firemen and a prevailing wind, she might well have been having her wake somewhat earlier!
As the afternoon wore on some of us reminisced about her cooking exploits which had, on occasion, resulted in exploding chocolate puddings and there was even more to laugh about when it came to her motorbike and side car antics. It was clear there was much to celebrate and enjoy at this impromptu family reunion on what turned out to be a beautiful spring day in a quaint Cambridgeshire village.
When proceedings came to a close, it was evident we had all taken substantial strides towards coming to terms with our loss. My cousins were left to get on with the nitty gritty of dismantling their mothers life while getting on with theirs, whereas I set off for the return home to the continued onslaught awaiting for me at the hands of Lloyds TSB and the Bank of Scotland.
During the journey back it struck me death, sad though it is for those left behind, is not necessarily the greatest loss in life. Instead, it is what we allow to die inside us while we live which is the real tragedy. My aunt had clearly lived her life fully and embraced every moment, to the very last. However, in contrast, I have allowed the Bank of Scotland and Lloyds TSB's unrelenting persecution of myself and my husband to regularly take away my love of life itself, reaping havoc with both my health and my relationship. If was me who had died rather than my aunt I am sure the mourners would not be laughing and celebrating my humour and zest for all things living but instead, would be lamenting the fact I have lived these past two and a half years as a one woman debt fighting machine locking horns day in day out with the Bank of Scotland and Lloyds TSB in a fruitless attempt to relay the hopelessness of our financial situation.
Losing sight of the fact Lloyd's TSB and the Bank of Scotland have not, and will never have a heart has cost me far more than monetary sums outstanding. However it is I who have permitted their bully boy tactics to seep into every crevice of my life and take over my existence. The passing of my aunt has brought home to me the simple fact one should never let adversity get in the way of life itself. Life, after all, is no rehearsal and no-one has ever asked for "I wish I had spent more time at the office" to be the words on their epitaph.
In the words of La Bruyere "death is a tragedy for those who feel" but can equally be "a comedy for those who think." I, like my aunt, have been capable of surviving a great many things and her passing has made me realise it is now time to stop feeling and start thinking. I believe it will prove far more fun and, who knows, may well result in some success!