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Passing Time

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Brendan here again. Apologies, the last post wasn’t the final one: Eamon asked me to write a post about the funeral.

requestThe weather was glorious. The sun was shining in the sky. The funeral service was late to start: there were so many people attending, that we had trouble getting the coffin into the church. Friends and family had travelled in specially from various parts of England, Ireland, The Netherlands and Germany.

We are very grateful to Father Sean, who agreed to the unusual request to perform a Catholic funeral service in an Anglican church. The church’s regular Anglican organist was also willing to bend the other way and accompany a Catholic mass. Eamon would have loved his prog rock leanings. He in turn enjoyed playing Eamon’s scores: we included a hymn that Eamon had arranged and a complete sung mass that he had written back in 1988, freshly rediscovered by his very good friend and former parish organist Georgina.

Eamon’s older brother Martin led the singing. He had also prepared an Order of Service booklet, with the lyrics, readings and some photos of Eamon. Nephew Jonathan gave a reading. At communion I sang a Georgian healing song, with a little help from my friends Benedict and Hermione. Then siblings Shirley, Nicola, Martin and I stood together and sang I Watch the Sunrise, with harmony support from Jonathan nearby.

Eamon’s former boss Amanda gave a moving tribute to him, remembering him as a model employee, and including many appreciative comments from his colleagues. His best friend Mike followed that with another beautiful tribute, “the best man’s speech I’ve been waiting to give”, recounting many treasured tales from their time together, some barely suitable to be spoken on hallowed grounds.

We carried the coffin out of the church through a jugglers’ guard of honour, and everyone headed off to the cemetery on two minibuses provided by Amanda and her company, and a red double-decker bus arranged by nephew Frank, displaying number six, one of Eamon’s traditional routes. The journey to the cemetery was a magical mystery tour of Eamon’s life: we departed from his pre-school playgroup, and followed his bus route to school, passing the place of his birth, primary and secondary schools and his final workplace.

At the graveside the priest led a decade of the rosary, Martin sang a Taize chant and we revisited the Georgian healing song. He was buried with his father, who died almost ten years ago.

We returned to the church hall, where a wonderful spread of food and drink had been prepared by our friend Caitlin. Marion and family had stayed behind and helped them to lay out the food. Caitlin’s family served it up to us attentively throughout the afternoon.

After a pause for food, the juggling got underway, and soon the air was filled with clubs, balls, hats and other flying objects. Some of Eamon’s more complex passing patterns were attempted. I’m not qualified to judge whether they were completely successful, but they looked pretty darned impressive. Some of the non-juggler friends and family even had a go, with assistance from many eager teachers. The juggling was accompanied musically by some of Eamon’s favourite CDs, and a recording of him performing a piece of Bach on the piano from 1987, that had just been unearthed by another friend. Those who weren’t juggling played boardgames, chatted, ate, drank, read tributes that had been fixed to the walls, viewed a slideshow of photos of Eamon’s life and tried out special Sudoku puzzles that Eamon had devised. Specially designed festival tokens were distributed to everyone.

every juggling festival has its tokens

The festival ended as Mr Blue Sky played out; family went back to Mum’s, jugglers went to the pub across the road, and celebrations continued into the evening, with a little to-ing and fro-ing between the two places.

Thank you to everyone who helped make it such a joyful celebration. Thank you to all who came, and for all the cards, mass dedications, flowers, kind words and hugs. And for donations totalling £454.18, which will go towards Maggie’s Centres and Macmillan Nurses. And special thanks to Linda, Sandra and Mark, who began plans for this event back in June. The whole event was a great comfort to his family, and a true celebration of Eamon’s life in all its richness.

tying up loose ends?

Ghost, c.1970

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Final chemotherapy session

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Last week I had a CT scan on my chest. It was much like the previous CT scan, with one difference. The nurse was in training, so she had to ask my permission to administer the injection for the iodine dye. I was her seventh victim.

This week I had my final chemotherapy session and, as normal, I saw the specialist the day before. It wasn’t my usual doctor this time. He gave me the results of the scan. Previously there had been two tumours on my liver, now there is only one. He couldn’t feel the tumour that had been in my neck. He also said the tumour in my lung had shrunk. I asked about the tumours in the bones and he said that they leave scars, which look just like the tumours, so it’s very difficult to comment on them.

My previous sick note was due to run out this week, so I asked him for another one and he obliged, signing me off for ‘at least six months.’ I was surprised by this because, as I understand it, I have maybe five or six weeks’ more treatment. I guess ‘not in treatment’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘fit for work’!

Three days after my chemotherapy there was a one day juggling festival in Bath. I felt fine after the treatment, so I decided to go! It was great to catch up with friends and I did some club passing. I didn’t do as much passing as I would have liked to, but it wasn’t because I wasn’t able to!

The next juggling festival is the week long British Juggling Convention, just before Easter. By then I should be out of treatment. Usually I would camp for the week. This year I might get a room!