My memories around Alistair’s death (3)
5th to 7th November 2015
By Kathy Martin…
This was written two weeks after Alistair died on Sunday 1st November 2015. I felt that if anyone else suffers the same devastating loss that possibly my experience may help.
My blog continues the lead up to Alistair’s funeral/Affirmation
Thursday 5th November – Affirmation
We left the hotel at 08.00 and drove to the Lefkoşa State Hospital morgue, arriving just before 08.45. Sasha came in with me, but my darling daughter was unable to get beyond looking at his chest; his coffin was placed lengthwise, with his head closest to us. I had to confirm that it was Alistair, both for officialdom and to convince myself that it was not some horrible practical joke someone was playing on me. The thing that really shocked me was that Alistair’s eyes were open; did not expect that and I let out a howl of pain! Alex, who had remained outside the morgue with Jon, asked me later why I laughed and Sasha reassured him that it was not a laugh, but a painful cry. Alex gave me a big hug and said “we are here to help you granny”! As you can imagine the tears were very free-flowing (as they are now as I type this).
The Affirmation was due to start in the Green Hill Cemetery at 10.30, so as we had time we looked for a cafe to get a drink and Jon managed to find one off a side road. We headed for the cemetery, but despite directions, one of the road signs had been knocked over and I had only been there once, 3½ years before, we went the wrong way. We drove up the mountain, on un-made-up roads, the higher we went the more I was convinced we were lost. I rang Tim Harris, from the Cemetery Committee and he confirmed we were on the wrong road, so with a bit of careful 3-point turning Jon took us back down the hill. We met friends coming up and told them to turn and follow us! At the bottom we found the turning we should have taken and arrived at about 10.20. Jon reassured me that they would not start without us!
I was delighted to see so many of our friends, but didn’t actually count – guess about 40 – had managed the awful road to make it – including:
Sadık Tuccaroğlu and his secretary, who hired us our 1st car and once we moved here sold us our car and over the following years has helped us in so many ways.
Can (pronounced Jan) Gazi, DJ Zel, Denise Phillips who all tried to speak but were too choked up. Denise (English) did manage to say “You may not believe we are all professional DJs”. I wrote a letter to our local paper Cyprus Today in which I said “Can Gazi, Zehra Özkan (DJ Zel) and Denise Phillips, from Bayrak may think they failed when they tried to speak of Alistair BUT I would like to assure them that the fact they could not speak told me far more of their affection for Alistair than any words they may have used.”
Ramadan, from our local coffee shop and neighbour in Doğanköy, it was the first time he had ever attended an English funeral and I am certain Alistair would have felt very honoured by his presence.
Several other close friends: Suzee & Huysein, Graham & Mary, Julie, Mike & Marion, Sally, Carole, Roy, Gill & Ivor and of course Marion Stuart with pink hair!
Any others not mentioned is due to my short term memory, rather than a desire to cause offence!
As part of my eulogy I said “Another point that occurred to me is that we really were the best of friends – when on holiday in Istanbul May 2014 – we spent 3 nights in a lovely
hotel in the Sultanmet area and went to a bar/restaurant nearby, as one of the few that sold beer. On the third night the owner asked us how long we had been friends and we assured him we had been married for just over 38 years – he said – with a look of disbelief on his face – “You cannot be married as you talk and laugh together!”
We played “Imagine” by John Lennon, during the moment of quiet reflection on his wonderful 68 years. Followed by “Bat out of hell” by Meat Loaf – just as a song that Alistair REALLY enjoyed – followed by another HUGE favourite “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. The final song played down by the grave was “Hallelujah”’ by one of his all time favourite singers Leonard Cohen. We have a double grave, Alistair was buried very deep and, in time, my coffin will go over his.
The view from the cemetery is spectacular overlooking the Mediterranean – shame one has to be dead!
We went onto the Happy Valley, Riaz had apologised in advance saying he would not come to the funeral as he wanted “his home was ready to help our friends have a good party”! About 30 people came to the wake
Again, Alistair would have been delighted that his wake would boost Riaz’s coffers! We had a collection for Tulips, instead of flowers, and raised 467 Lira, just over £100.
Several of my friends spent time talking to me. Including Terry & Karen Gallagher, who manage the local DVD shop that we have been visiting at least once a week for years. I was very touched that they shut the shop, so they could both attend – they take it in turns to cover the shop. Karen was particularly supportive – I knew Terry was a new husband after the death of her previous one, but had no idea that her first husband had had a slow, lingering death from cancer.
Alistair and I have always said that when it is our time to go, sudden death from a heart attack is far preferable to the slow deaths both my father and his mother suffered. My mother had died very suddenly at the young age of 61, from a heart attack, yes, HORRIBLE, for those of us left behind, but far better way for the deceased.
Alistair got his wish, he was just TOO YOUNG at 68!
Friday 6th November
I asked S,J&A if we could go to the Delta Cafe & bar, in the new harbour area, as it was one of Alistair & my favourite bars for lunch. I couldn’t have gone on my own and had to explain where Alistair was. The owner, Recep, was so kind and as we were leaving he said “I want to see you often – this must be your second home”. I have been a couple of times now, he has WiFi, so I took my PC and visited my FaceBook friends!
At Magic Touch, we got copies of Alistair’s photos that S,J&A had raided from all their photo albums. Now have them in my bag and at spare moments get them out and have happy memories.
S,J&A spent the afternoon at the Bellapais Abbey, while I sat in the car enjoying
- the view
- the photos!
We collected my car from HV and took it to the hotel, as S,J&A have to leave at 08.00 in the morning.
We spent a very nostalgic evening back at the HV and I actually managed to eat the delicious mixed starter!
Saturday 7th November
We checked out of the hotel at 07.45 and after a tearful goodbye.
I started the first day of the rest of my life.
The future is now unwritten for me but I am very confident that it will include these things:
- I WILL remain here in Doğanköy
- I WILL continue to have support from so many wonderful friends
- I WILL survive!