Those mystery white feathers cause a quaver
Published at 09:05, Monday, 21 May 2012
SOME of you may recall that a couple of years ago, I wrote a piece about my sister in this column.
After a lifetime of various ailments, she had contracted cancer, but appeared to be on the road to recovery.
Sadly, it was the lull before the storm, and last week, I attended her funeral in Macclesfield.
The fighting spirit which had allowed her to live a full and colourful life was finally snuffed out by the cruel disease, and she died surrounded by her family.
There was a huge turnout for the funeral, including dozens of youngsters in their teens and twenties weeping unashamedly as they bade a fond farewell to the woman who had become a surrogate mother to them all.
Throughout her life, she had been a great believer in fortune tellers, clairvoyants, palm readers, soothsayers and every other quack and necromancer who crossed her path.
She crossed more palms with silver than I have had pork pies, and treated every scrap of nonsense they fed to her as absolute gospel.
While normally a rational person, she had a whole kitbag packed to the drawstring with superstitions.
Don’t cut your nails on a Sunday, don’t move house on a Friday, crossed knives meant an argument, two spoons on a saucer meant a christening, itchy bum, money to come – she believed in them all.
One of her favourites was that a bird fluttering in front of a window was a harbinger of death.
She was deeply scornful when I pointed out that the gardens of Hextol Towers were littered with the corpses of our feathered friends, which had slammed into windows, their bird brains convinced they could fly out of the other side.
“If somebody died every time a bird hit our windows, there’d be no room in the cemetery,” I told her.
“Don’t be stupid,” she retorted.
“If a bird hits the window and dies, it’s just a stupid bird that wasn’t looking where it was going.
“The ones you worry about are the ones that just flutter outside the window; they are the messengers hovering to tell you someone is going to snuff it.”
She was a staunch believer in messages from the after-life, as parodied so brilliantly by Peter Kay.
After our father had died, we were sitting in the house when, for no apparent reason, the poker started rocking gently from side to side where it was lying on the hearth.
“That were ’im,” she pronounced portentously, and while I thought it might have more to do with the implement cooling and contracting after some vigorous fire poking, I said nothing.
Every natural phenomenon, like bobbing robins or empty bags of Quavers being chivvied along by capricious winds was treated as a message from the Other Side, while I silently shook my head in disbelief.
One of the traditions I don’t care for after a death in the family is the viewing of the body in the chapel of rest.
I have no problems with dead bodies; I have seen plenty in the course of my work, but frankly I don’t see the point.
The person you knew and loved has gone; the body is just the package they came in.
However, my nephew did make the trip to see his mother for the last time – and this is where things get a bit spine tingly.
He told me: “In the last couple of days before she died, I asked my mum to give me a sign if there was anything after death.
“I didn’t want her appearing behind me in the mirror or anything when I was having a shave, but just some indication she was OK.
“She seemed fast asleep when I was talking to her but she opened her eyes, gave me a smile, and a big wink.
“I had cleaned the car inside and out the day before ready for the funeral, and had locked it before I went into the chapel of rest. When I came out, and unlocked the car, there was a fluffy white feather lying on the dashboard....
“That were ’er.”
My heart went out to the lad, but on the morning of the funeral, the first thing I saw when getting into my car was – a fluffy white feather in the road.
And after the funeral, when I went to put flowers on my mother’s grave, guess what was lying at the graveside?
Were it ’er?
Published by http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk