Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Dead

There was an interesting recent newspaper piece where a minister of religion urged us to call people who have died as dead, and not passed, passed on or passed over. I am with him. People die and become dead. Maybe in their lives they have passed a kidney stone but just passed? So weird. It is a softening word but really, is it needed? Isn't it better to say someone has died and confront the reality?  Express death how ever you want. I am not telling you what to do, just how I see it.

R worked with Albert in the 1970s. I began working with Albert in the 1980s and continued to work with him until I chose retirement in 2019 and he was forced to retirement the same year when he was diagnosed with dementia. 

While still working, he would plaintively wail, what will I do with myself if I retire. (He could just have become a lazy and spoilt self indulgent bastard like me).

Albert had two sons and a daughter. I don't known the daughter but his youngest son, slim as rake, worked in our local bank in the 90s. His older son was a muso and a drug user. Taking after his mother, his skin was pale and he was very nice looking with very long tied back hair. Smoking hot, I would say. Now the bank son is fat and old, and the older son, short curly grey haired but still handsome as an older man.

Albert was a hard worker and earned lots of money and was very generous with money. But his last few years were spent in public housing and he was kicked out of the matrimonial bed to the couch by his wife who he would lecture about her gambling, drinking and smoking. His wife was also Indian but very white looking. 

His two sisters live in England and Albert was a passionate Tottenham Hotspurs supporter. He always intimated he came to Australia from England, without ever saying so but the funeral online as we watched told the truth.

Albert grew up in Park Circus in Calcutta, a posh area for Anglo Indians. I've worked with many Anglo Indians who grew up in Park Circus. I expect he was part educated by Catholics before his parents moved to Perth when he was young and then Australian educated. He moved to Melbourne on his own in the 1970s and built his life.

He was Catholic and attended St Francis church in the city, but in more recent years he and some of his family became born again Christians. Being born again did not change Albert's interaction with us.

There is a YT clip of Albert being interviewed by the great nephew of our friend, Brighton Antique Dealer. Albert was born in 1942 but in the interview he said without the blink of an eye, 1946.

Early this year we saw Albert when we were brunching in Prahran Square. His normally perfectly groomed and black dyed hair was long and straggly and the colour was growing out. I am looking for a barber to cut my hair, he told us. I ran into him two weeks later in Balaclava and he told me the same story of not being able to find a barber.

I am awaiting a response from a former workmate as to why he died but gee we will miss running into Albert when we are our and about. He would so often catch us in Myer while we were clothes shopping. This was Albert at the age of 77 when he retired.

I also learnt this day that the most marvellous ABC 3LO, now ABC Melbourne broadcaster Mary Adams died. She came to Australia from Palmerston North in New Zealand and was one of the last of ABC's broadcasters with a posh and sublimely mellow voice. Her diction was perfect and she rarely made a mistake.


With late Prime Minister Bob Hawke.


36 comments:

  1. I am with you and tend to say died and dead. Each to their own.
    Love that final photo but couldn't help being reminded of the dreadful Pauline (who never looks that good).

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    1. EC, I thought the same thing about the photo of Mary with Bob.

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  2. I agree, died and dead. Being remembered, is immortality in the physical world. The spiritual world I will leave to others, like I leave magic to the magicians.

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  3. People tiptoe around death and dying. To me, the end of life is no less holy than its beginning.

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    1. Debby, I don't see why people tiptoe around death and dying. It can be very said but humans have been dying for a very long time.

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  4. PS: I forgot to say that the surname of your Albert startled me a bit. It is my nephew's wife's maiden name.

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    1. Is your nephew's wife a bit bit on the dark side? 😉

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  5. When my hubby died in 2016 I decided to use the word died. In my mind he had not passed and he was not lost. Lots of people say they lost their spouse. I think, how careless of them. I don't say that, of course.

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    1. Terra, connecting two things, on the work notice board a note often enough went up, usually put there by Anglo Indians about something having lost their mother/father etc. Every time I thought how careless they were.

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  6. Definitely dead and died. After a stint as an oncology nurse I learned a lot about the process and have no fear of death. We need to stop mystifying it. Albert sounds like a fascinating chap. It's interesting how people re-invent themselves.

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    1. Caro, while I have a fear of a painful death, I don't fear death. After, what is to be fearful of when you are dead? Albert was good fun and a good talker.

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  7. I have been woken by 3LO every morning since university. It got each day going and provided my news and entertainment at home and then in the car. Mary Adams was a pleasure to listen to.

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    1. Hels, same here. My focus used to be the 7.45 news but now the 7.00am news. I am well awake by the time I hear the Majestic Fanfare news theme.

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  8. He died now he's dead. There is also expired - have you heard of that one?
    Lovely to read about Albert.

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    1. Margaret, I have seen it written but I don't think I have ever seen anyone say it.

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  9. I have never understood the desire to change one's age. I have a Facebook friend who always posts pictures of herself when she was much younger (and she thinks glamorous). It's very annoying.

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    1. Cro, Albert was vain and it surprised us to see him looking so bad in his last year. It isn't how we will remember him. I am guilty of what you say say with my Facebook profile photo being over twenty years old, but I did recently post a present day photo of me.

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  10. I prefer to say someone has died, that way there is no confusion about what has happened to them.

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    1. River, died is very finite and there is no misunderstanding.

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  11. I use both "died" and "passed away", but not because of any desire to soften any thing. I just happen to like synonyms! It makes writing more lively.

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    1. Kirk, while I agree with making writing more lively, I don't really think passed away does so.

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  12. For me somebody is dead and didn't pass away, that's just to avoid word dead. In French it's even worse and I madee a big mmistake ! A woman told me her mother wants to go (meaning to die) and I said, what at her age ? and where does she want do go ?
    Fortunately they laughed and I thought what a stupid expression "gowing away" !

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    1. Gattina, we at times say something like 'it was time for her go'. Generally people understand the meaning, but there is no reason to not say, 'it was time for her to die'.

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  13. I so agree with you on the died and death. Reality check. And while we're at it, my pet peeve is "battling cancer". What an awful image, along with the "Brave fight". I wish they'd stop. Every obit has it, it seems. "Lost the battle." Where is the war?

    XO
    WWW

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    1. WWW, and 'lost the fight after a long battle with cancer'. I don't know of anyone who I have thought battled. Medical care and nature took their course. I suppose some put on a brave face, but there is no need. Illness is unpleasant. That's understood by everyone.

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  14. Sorry for the death of your friend Albert.

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    1. Sami, in spite of his age, it seemed quite premature.

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  15. Time marches on, eh? So sorry about your friend. I'm with you on avoiding the euphemisms -- let's just say it like it is.

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    1. Steve, I expected a bit of pushback on euphemisms, but surprisingly not. Thanks.

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  16. I wouldn't wish to be born again as I would never squeeze through the gap this time round. It was hard enough the first time and I was much smaller then.

    Farewell Albert!

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    1. YP, yet you went on to be very fond of such gaps over your lifetime. Odd.

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  17. Sorry to hear of Albert's death. More and more I am hearing the phrase of someone passing. I assume they are religious and mean someone has passed on to another life. Never used to hear it.

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    1. Marie, I'll agree with your assumption, but now here at least, it has well and truly become more widely used.

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  18. People I know dropping like flies around here lately. How in the world did that little phrase come about, to describe multitudes of deaths. Albert worked til he was 77! I hope he enjoyed his work. That didn't leave him much time after.

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    1. Strayer, we say dropping like flies here too. I think it could used for illness too. Albert really did enjoy his work and as he forecast, what would I do if I retired? Clearly nothing fulfilling enough to keep him alive.

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