19 Oct 2018

This evening, I did 'stand at the grave and weep'. Many people must have felt this, the shock of death, even if expected, the form filling, funeral organisation, travelling arrangements, feeding people. Then, the anti-climax, it sinks in.

I'd been up to the cemetery 2/3 times, and just stood, or sat in the sun. But tonight, the finality struck home. Then I started wondering about a person's 'legacy'. A lady died in the care home two days after my husband. She'd come from a long stay in hospital. She was in one of the main rooms, a wraith, and silent, attached to drips. Her husband was there, lost. I think he was frightened of being alone with her in her own room. Then he realised he knew us, and came and sat next to me, I addressed him by name, he looked so relieved in a world which had become strange.

I don't think many people will be aware that this couple, small in stature, seeking no recognition, were ardent workers for the church and the charities of Secours Catholique and St Vincent de Paul. Our priests are new, the congregation declining, the couple old, the church magazine defunct, so no public words of thanks are likely. No Legion of Honour for them. The Catholic Church does have a medal for 'outstanding achievement'; I do not know how many are handed out.

The picture epitomises my husband's legacy, and it will have gone round the world. He did receive the Outstanding Award for service to his own industry. But you cannot turn this picture into a tombstone. Explanations needed. For at least ten years I planned a scheme and planted containers and baskets for the whole façade of this historic house, every year different. Mr G diligently kept the lot watered, and it was an onerous (and athletic) task. It is a tourist area, and photos of the flowers must exist round the world (especially in Japan).

We had to wait to go in the front door once because a couple were sitting on the step to be photographed. It was also very social, as he got to know fresh generations of kids and their mums going to the school just down the road. One of the nuns in the convent opposite said her day was made as she opened her window on to the flowers each morning. One lady going home at lunchtime would make a detour to see them. People would ask what next year's colour scheme would be. People's unseen legacies abound. For 20+ years Mr G pedalled round town distributing posters for the little music festival. He designed covers for the church magazine.

I am sure most of us have 'unsung heroes', working diligently, and, so important, reliably, for their community. So valuable are those who can organise and galvanise groups to pick up litter, clean canals, pressurise the local council.

Who would you award a medal to?

The Gardener

A Moodscope member.

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