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A beautiful, dry cold day. The fields and meadows white with frost, the gnarled little willows lining them sparkly with ice, the black shaggy-coated Frisians roaming them breathing steam from their nostrils...It was a beautiful, quiet day today when we went to pay our last respects to Ben, who died just before the weekend. I even spotted a stork high up on a streetlight beside the road!

A good number of friends and relations had come to the crematorium; too many to fit into the hall where we listened to his favourite jazz music pieces and two wonderful commemorative speeches - the first by Best Friend, his half-sister, and the second by her father and his stepfather. Years ago, Ben'd written a nonsense verse in her 'poesie album', a kind of friendship book that little girls in Holland carry with them and ask friends, family and random people they like to write them a poem in and that usually gets lost or discarded or is never returned by the last person they asked well before puberty, and it was this nonsense verse that she took as the starting point and recurring theme for her tribute to him. It was very moving, very insightful, and totally celebratory of his life and personality. Rob, her father, then spoke of their shared love of jazz, good food, fine wines, and the hunt; and Ben's neverending thirst for knowledge -- even during his last stay in hospital, he'd kept a stack of study books by his bedside.

Afterwards, there was the obligatory (at Dutch funerals) round of coffee and cake, followed by the equally necessary round of sandwiches and soup, and we mingled and met with old friends and commiserated with acquaintances, and expressed our deepest sympathies to the family.

I left before the last round of wine and cheese. When I glanced up to where I'd seen the stork before, I was sad to see that it had flown off...

Rest in peace, Ben. You will be missed.

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Comments

( 18 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )
sanda56
Feb. 1st, 2006 04:27 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a beautiful way to say goodbye.
gamiila
Feb. 1st, 2006 07:34 pm (UTC)
It was a good send-off...not at all sad and mopey, but upbeat and thankful for the life he's had, and the lives he's touched. I only hope that when my time comes, there'll be some of that as well. ;-)
freakspawn
Feb. 1st, 2006 04:51 pm (UTC)
Glad to hear he had a nice send off.

Sounds like a wonderful person *hugs*
gamiila
Feb. 1st, 2006 07:46 pm (UTC)
Ben certainly was a wonderful individual - he was warm and kind, and he enjoyed life, learning, music, the arts, and travel. He particularly loved China, and went there several times, also to pick up tips...He was a doctor (GP), but specialised in acupuncture; and he helped a great many people get better with the techniques he learned in the East. He dabbled in abstract painting and sculpting when he was younger, and some of his more interesting works were also on display in the crematorium today.

Yet on the other hand, he was also a deeply private individual, and given to long absences on his own.

Of course, I only knew him as 'brother of'...but I remember having long conversations with him on family get togethers, and I'll miss him at our next gathering.
freakspawn
Feb. 2nd, 2006 09:55 am (UTC)
Sounds like the kind of person to look up to!

Thank you for sharing a little about him with us, am sure he will be sorely missed.

gamiila
Feb. 2nd, 2006 10:56 am (UTC)
Sounds like the kind of person to look up to!

Oh, definitely! I certainly feel I was lucky in having known him.
deborahw37
Feb. 1st, 2006 05:26 pm (UTC)
I'm so very sorry for the loss of your friend
gamiila
Feb. 1st, 2006 07:47 pm (UTC)
Thanks, love.
curiouswombat
Feb. 1st, 2006 08:23 pm (UTC)
It is a blessing that at least he died peacefully - but the death of someone young is still always sad. I am sure that it will help his family to know that he had a good funeral with a lot of people there to remember him, and be glad that they knew him.
gamiila
Feb. 1st, 2006 10:14 pm (UTC)
I do believe the family were very grateful to see so many people come and say goodbye to Ben; and they were all bearing up well -- but now that the funeral is over, the knowledge that Ben's no longer with them will really start to sink in, and there'll probably be some difficult days ahead for them.

It's perhaps a little strange, but when I asked Ben's mother how she was, she said she was alright really...well, she said, she had to be, to shore up her husband who was taking the loss of his stepson ever so hard.
enigmaticblues
Feb. 1st, 2006 09:18 pm (UTC)
*hugs*
gamiila
Feb. 1st, 2006 10:14 pm (UTC)
Thanks.
db2305
Feb. 1st, 2006 09:31 pm (UTC)
*hugs*

And I love your description of our countryside. A good thing that even on a day like that you can stil notice beauty.
gamiila
Feb. 1st, 2006 10:22 pm (UTC)
I don't know if you're familiar with the countryside around Rotterdam at all? The crematorium is halfway between Delft and Rotterdam, tucked away in a corner of 't Groene Hart, with the Vliet running beside it and all these quaint little hamlets and winding country roads...As a city girl through and through, I don't often get to see these places (so near and yet so far), but when I do, I tend to keep my eyes wide open! ;-)
lillianmorgan
Feb. 2nd, 2006 07:44 am (UTC)
Just wanted to give you some ::hugs::
What a beautiful eulogy to him.
gamiila
Feb. 2nd, 2006 10:53 am (UTC)
Thank you for the hugs - they're much appreciated!
miss_fairfax
Feb. 2nd, 2006 08:27 pm (UTC)
*hugs from me too, honey*
gamiila
Feb. 2nd, 2006 08:46 pm (UTC)
Lovingly returned ;-)
( 18 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )

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