It was as they say , a beautiful day for a funeral. A bright, clear Autumn day,a day when if he had been well would have been the chance to take out a ducatti, before the leaves and salt were on the roads.
Instead we were going to his funeral.
Family and friends did him proud and the service was beautiful and we followed his wishes to the letter. Even having “bright eyes” as thevsong of farewell at the end, to celebrate his love of walking around waterhip down which is close by. It will be quite some time before I can see a rabbit without crying.
Mesothelioma has been a central element of my life for 6 years. Even on good days it was a cloud on the horizon. It is now time to grieve and for me it is best to do that away from reminders of the disease. So many lovely people who shared their thoughts have been lost, Jan, Debbie and Steve to name just a few. My best wishes will continue for Mavis to lead the fight and for those new families coming to terms with the diagnosis .
I thought as closure to this blog I would share my final words at the funeral in memory of the man so many people loved.
” Ray was the bravest man I have ever met.
He was also one of the kindest , and definitely one of the tidiest. If you needed someone to be able to point out a painting or cushion that wasn’t square from a hundred paces, Ray was your man.
He used to tell me that it was one of the great mysteries of his life how he had managed to end up with someone as consistently messy as me.
It will come as no surprise to any of you who knew Ray well, that I have been left with copious and extremely detailed instructions about every aspect of his funeral. All of you here today are helping those wishes come true.
He loved so much about life, he loved sailing, He loved music, especially the violin. He loved dancing. He definitely loved fast cars and ducatti motorbikes, although none of them ever saw a drop of rain He loved exploring the Hampshire countryside and became an avid walker, latterly he loved his garden, with of course perfectly regulated stripes on the lawn.
Ray loved so much about life, but most of all he loved his family. He was so proud of everything his daughter and his son had achieved.
Just over 6 years ago he was diagnosed with the terminal cancer mesothelioma. He was initially given 6 months to live and his first thoughts were how to protect the people he loved. It was enough for me and his mum and dad to know. He didn’t want anyone else to have to live through the pain of the disease. He wanted his family to to be able to enjoy their lives without the cloud of his illness constantly on the horizon.
Ray taught me the meaning of courage, of what it is to fight even though you know the battle is lost. What it is to love life, to have fun and to laugh, what it means to do the small things well, to enjoy a good glass of wine or a nice meal. People often wonder what they would do given 6 months to live, you hear of bucket list and trips around the world. Ray told me he didn’t need to travel round the world, everything he loved was here, at home.
No one here will be surprised to learn that he didn’t want sympathy, that he wanted people to see the man not the illness. His family gave him that the gift of normality and will never know just how much that meant to him.
6 months became 6 years because Ray never knew when he was beaten and because of the amazing support of doctors and nurses within the NHS. Not only did he live far longer than expected but he also lived well. Despite undergoing surgery and chemotherapy, he never let the disease hold him back or stop him doing what he loved. Just one year ago he was still racing his ducatti around Silverstone.
in early February this year, his health suddenly started to deteriorate. Being Ray of course he still set himself targets but even for him they proved to be targets too far. Until the very end of his life he looked out for the people he loved and wanted to spare them pain.
I would like to leave you all with some lines from a poem by Dylan Thomas that will always remind me of Ray.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light
Ray wasn’t an old man, but he never went anywhere gentle and he raged for a long, long time against the dying of the light because he didn’t want to leave the life or the people he loved.
Ray was the bravest man I have ever met and I am very proud to have been his wife.”