Friday, March 21, 2008

Dame M's funeral

I suppose you have been eagerly waiting a report of Dame M's funeral. You haven't? Ah, I shall write anyway. At one point I ended up a sobbing mess in the arms of T, our dyke friend. One of you should have warned me that a funeral of someone very dear, that lasted from 1pm to 9pm, that involved lots of clinking of glasses, would end up being very tired and emotional.

It was a very good funeral. The overpainted lady celebrant did a good job. She had the dulcet tones correct, the smiles and laughs in the right place. I could also recommend White Lady Funerals. The family did a good job too. The Boarder is going through an extremely emotional time. I am not judging the family on his say so.

It was all very well done and it is the second funeral I have been to at Le Pines in Carlisle Street.

After the the funeral ceremony, while some went onto to the cemetery, we went back to our dyke friends for cheese, biscuits and wine.

Later, we friends of Dame M, her family, and hangers on met up at Janes Place for a proper celebration. Shanghai restaurant even got a mention in a funeral speech, aka, Janes. It is near St Kilda Junction near where Dame M lived and Dame M was a customer after Jane's second day. Dame M became Jane's friend. Dame M had already employed one of Jane's relatives as a sewing machine worker. Even later, we ended up back at Dame M's. That was a mistake. She wasn't behind the bar or sitting in her chair.

I did meet the family from Queensland and they seemed ok. They may be insensitive to The Boarder's grief, but I don't think there will be any problems with the will. I also met Dame M's stepsons. They seemed pretty ok too. I learnt plenty about Dame M that I did not know. Her Qld brother in law had known Dame M since the age of thirteen, which would be 1938. Her neighbour, who was not at the funeral, had known her since the age of sixteen He used to do her shopping when we knew her. Every morning he would call on Dame M and ask what she wanted at the shops. He would find a bargain and then she would moan about the cheap products he bought. I expect 'Bloody Stanley', as he was affectionately known, loved her and he always lived close by wherever she lived.

I am not sure how many times the word elegant was mentioned during the ceremony. Her fashion friends did not attend. No sign of Prue Acton or those of similar ilk. I believe Wendy Harmer will be in Melbourne next week. I may contact her and tell of Dame M's death. Many of Dame M's friends are dead anyway. Dame M was quite upset when her friend Vali Myers died.

None of the Ya Ya Girls attended the funeral, well one is dead anyway. Dame M used to meet the Jewish ladies for lunch every Thursday and always complain that they were so boring and such miseries, they depressed her. I did at least learn who one of them was. She was Dame M's late husband's business partner's wife and exceedingly rich at Dame M's expense. Had Dame M's husband survived another ten days, Dame M would have been part owner of huge amounts of land stretching from Werribee to Point Cook.

Dame M had lung cancer which had spread to other parts of her body. She correctly self diagnosed and decided to spend the rest of her days at home. She did not tell The Boarder what she was suffering from, but she did tell him that she would not go to hospital and that he should not take her nor insist. The hospital indicated that it would not have prolonged her life much anyway. In some ways I curse her for putting us all through so much uncertainty, but gosh she really did do it her way. Pretty brave to do what she did entirely on her own.

This picture and twee poem is not how I will remember Dame M.


  1. Long funerals are always emotionally draining, and I should know...I've been to five of them in the last twelve months. The longest, and therefore most arduous, was a full-bloodied catholic job with mass and threats of damnation etc. I'd never been to one of them before. I'd have made a break for it about three hours in but there were two bouncers guarding the church doors.

    The wake afterwards, however, was an experience to remember. I've since been informed that fist fights are common at these sort of affairs.

    Nowadays I prefer to hang around outside the church with a cigarette in my mouth, listening to the service through the leper's squint. Then when the coffin emerges I pay my respects to the relatives and bugger off sharpish.

  2. I agree with the above, but I also find them such an affirmation of life, of those gone, and those that remain, and the human need for 'rituals'.

    It's also interesting how many ratbags turn into saints, as if people are afraid of telling the truth, just in case the departed are listening (?).

    Your Dame M sounds like an exceptional character, of the memorable type we might meet only once in our lifetime. When one departs they leave such a gap.

  3. I'm not surprised that she knew about the cancer. I was telling my sister about the hospital and being a nurse, she twigged straight away. Dame M was certainly a beautiful woman.

    I can't stand funerals where everyone only has nice things to say but hasn't seen the departed for years. I refuse to wear black, always red to celebrate their life.

  4. Anonymous4:42 pm

    Vali Myers - wow the times they must have had together!

    I am sure funerals are fashioned to be an emotional roller coaster. An anecdote makes you laugh then a selected piece of music sets off the tears. It is important though - without rituals I don't think it feels as though the goodbyes have been said. I am glad Dame M's day was full of love and friendship.

  5. Dear Andrew,

    I did not comment on the original post as I was going to send you a more personal email instead - but I never quite found the words. What can you say at such a time?

    She sounds extraordinarily brave, amazingly independent and furiously colourful. I hope you can remember her in all the best ways possible.

    With much love,

  6. Yeah Brian, I couldn't do funerals like two days ago too often.

    I learnt extraordinary things from her Bliss, things I would have never otherwise known or be interested in. She was far from being a saint, and the service reflected that.

    There were plenty of bright colours at the funeral Jah Teh. Everyone knew she would prefer that and bunches of red balloons were tied to every pew and as she loved glitter, it was sprinkled over her in the open coffin.

    It was a day of laughter and tears LiD. I saw Vali Myers dancing one night at Young and Jackson's. Boy could she twirl.

    Thanks so much Rosanna. You are a love.

  7. That's an absolutely beautiful photo of Dame M. You were very lucky to have someone like her in your life. We have our own Dame M who is 73, we met her at a particularly bad time in our lives and have been great friends for about 13 years. She reminds me so much of your Dame M and we feels blessed to know her.

    One thing I always enjoy at a wake is all the old stories that people tell. It's a shame that it's after someone has passed that you learn so much about them.

  8. Jo, make sure that you get many stories from her. If you know her, I am sure she must be interesting.

  9. It's the little random memories that can set you off either laughing or crying or both.
    Sounds like a nice funeral, White Lady do a lovely job.
    She really did do it her way and not many can honestly lay claim to leaving this world the way they want it, like Dame M did.

  10. White Lady is subsidiary of Le Pines I believe Jayne, and they were good.

  11. Sorry I have arrived late at this wake, but you have my sympathy for the loss of your vibrant friend.