January 22, 2014

Death

I’m not superstitious but I’m still not going to congratulate myself on getting through four decades without losing much more than the occasional grandparent. Tonight I had a call from a former colleague who I’ve hardly heard from in the last ten years, to tell me that the man who owned the company we both worked for died this week of a heart attack.

It’s exactly a decade since I left that place and I can’t recognise myself when I look back. I was well-paid in that job, for getting things done and not asking too many questions about ethics. The boss as I knew him was a man who took what he wanted and then damn well kept it. He hoisted himself up the social ladder and bought the tweed suit to match his acres of farmland, but he would just as happily sit in the yard drinking beer with his builder. His desk was a bigger mess than mine and I spent hours trying to train him to use an Out Tray. If someone crossed him he would blow a gasket, and I’m slightly surprised his heart didn’t pack up sooner. He was very generous to people he valued, and not afraid to try out maverick methods, which made for a small, successful company full of utter misfits.

When I took it into my head to move to Hungary, he kept me on with a crazy deal to continue working for him from abroad; and when I needed to come back he gave me my job back without a murmur. After I met Pete and finally handed in my notice, for real this time, he pretty much stopped talking to me; and once I had gone I never heard another word from him. He did add me on Facebook, though, and I am seeing on his profile so many warm tributes from his friends.

He was a mad crooked bastard, but he gave me a lot of chances and a lot of trust. I can’t claim that I’ll miss him, as I’ve barely thought of him in the last few years, but I will raise a glass to him tonight.

Karen

2 thoughts on “Death

  1. I lost an uncle today. A perpetual background presence through childhood, noted mainly for spoiling me in the way that uncles should. In later years, settled into the role of head of (my mother’s) family – meaning he ensured everyone kept in touch with everyone else and knew who they were related to, which was very useful at family get-togethers (“how am I related to you?”; “no idea, ask Ted!”).

    One failed marriage, one son in and out of prison, three other splendid kids, lots of grandchildren and a couple of great grandchildren. And he’ll be genuinely missed.

    I’ll be raising a glass.

  2. My strangest encounter with death was about 18 months ago when my Mum’s cousin died. I had only met her once, at my Grandmother’s funeral. I knew of her by reputation – she won a series of mastermind back in the 90’s, had a phd in classics and was a keen Egyptologist. I headed up to York for the funeral and thought little more of it. She was in her 70’s and seemed to have had a strange but full life.

    A couple of weeks later I found out she had left me a 1/3 of her house (along with my brother and sister). I was left with very mixed feelings. I was grateful and pleased to have the money but sad that she hadn’t had somebody she actually knew to leave it to. If she saw us as her closest family maybe I should have got in touch, although equally maybe she should have got in touch with us.

    Her death was having a profound impact on my life in a positive way which isn’t really how death is supposed work. I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about the whole thing.

    Ms Gammidgy on January 23, 2014

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