Mrs P's funeral was yesterday. The service was moving and beautiful. The Misses P made me proud by the readings they delivered over their mother's coffin and by their loving support, amid their own terrible grief, for their distraught father. As I watched their family and their young friends rally around them, I knew they will be fine, given time. There is no substitute for family and friends. Beware all charlatans who offer one.
Our families and our friends came together and celebrated her life. I thought my heart would stop when I threw a handful of earth and a flower into her grave, but - as you see - it didn't. I was told that some who tried to send her favourite flowers could not do so because I had cornered the London market. That made me smile. I always wanted her to have the best I could afford and those were the last loving gifts I could buy. My continuing duty to her now (as she made very clear) is to help her beloved daughters and her elderly mother. I will do it with pleasure as best I can. I will miss her wise guidance though.
Her earthly remains lie near the Katyn Memorial among distinguished Poles, including late members of the government in exile. Mrs P. spoke fluent Polish. We brought our daughters up during our eleven years in Warsaw. My clients and I (steered of course by Adam Smith's "invisible hand") did our bit to build the economy of post-Communist Poland. Somehow it seemed right. As the priest prayed over her grave, I knew a Polish lady very dear to her was also praying for her in Warsaw; the lady who first set her on her path to the faith in which she died. I also knew a good friend of hers I had never met was praying in a church in Corsica. She had told me she would and she texted me a picture of it as the cars took us away from the cemetery.
To my amazed delight, friends flew in from New York and Warsaw just to be there. We received flowers and touching messages from other friends in the United States and Russia who couldn't make it. I smiled to see a card in Cyrillic on a wreath and remembered Mrs P. practising her Russian skills on Aeroflot inflight magazines and in endless conversation with our (Ukrainian) driver. I am told a small UK cancer charity co-founded by her oncologist will receive gifts in her name from some unusual directions. It is wonderful to know that she was so loved outside our family too. I have many thank you letters to write and will do it in the coming days with a proud and grateful heart.
I have had other things to think about than blogging since she died, but I have read and have been moved by your kind comments under my last post (and by the direct messages I received from those of you who know me personally). I am still not in the mood to blog about the idiocies of the British state and its thugs and lackeys. I plan to drive around wild, beautiful Scotland for a few days, finding quiet places to sit and meditate over good whisky on how my life has changed. Maybe after that I will seek out every kilometre of unrestricted autobahn in Germany and clear Vittoria's tubes by maxing her out a few times. And then pootle back gently through France, remembering how we explored that country together in the last three decades and came - for all its foibles - to love it dearly.
Some calm, quiet reflection is required, so forgive me if the Last Ditch's little guns remain silent for a while. I will be back, when you will see how much bombast and overstatement Mrs P's editorial comments have spared you over the years. Thank you again for all your kind thoughts. The friends rallying around me here have reminded me yet again that cyberspace may be virtual, but is populated by real, kind humans.