Dave's Progress. Chapter 113: A Tribute to Cath.

At the Pathways Group on Tuesday of last week, we were given some very sad news. We were told that a member of our little group, who had been coming since its inception some four years ago, had passed away. Her name was Cath Barker, and although we had known that Cath was suffering from an incurable and untreatable degenerative lung condition, the news of her sudden passing was an unexpected shock.
Cath had been a key member of our group, always giving us a laugh whenever we would fall into silence or seemed to have nothing to say. Her buoyancy and good humour always kept us in good spirits, and indeed, even upon hearing the news that she had contracted this terrible condition, she never changed. That was what was so remarkable about Cath. Knowing that she only had a relatively short time to live, she stayed resolutely cheerful and showed not an ounce of self-pity, and in doing so, we all thought, showed astounding bravery.
Not only this, though. Cath was not content just to sit back and let the worst happen, and despite difficulties in breathing, initially planned trips away to Scotland, Norway and Amsterdam. The thought of Cath being unleashed in Amsterdam was, however, a little worrying (in a good humoured sort of way), being, as she was, the recognised "wild child" of the group. Cath often remarked on her more wild days- "I used to be a bit of a bugger", she would say in true Potteries fashion. But, really, this "reputation", if that's what it was, was actually just  a bit of a joke shared between her and those close to her, so when I say it was worrying that she would be "unleashed" in Amsterdam, I am only really trying to join in on the camaraderie.
Fortunately for us in the group, we were able to see Cath only a week before she passed away. We all went out to Tittesworth, out in the country, and had a lovely time looking out over the scenery there. Our resident photographer, Dom, took some pictures, which will obviously have an added poignancy for us.
Less fortunately, Cath was unable to go on her trips abroad, such was the nature of her condition and the extent to which it had deteriorated. But, again, despite this disappointment, Cath remained upbeat and full of good natured banter.
Much like our other good friend, Matt Aitken, of whose passing I wrote in a previous blog, Cath was the very antithesis of the stereotypes of mental illness. She had worked hard for most of her life, and she was funny, gentle and kind.
In tribute to Cath, then, I shall print here a few words from a poem by D.H. Lawrence, entitled "Self-Pity", which, perhaps, are fitting to the way in which she handled all that had befallen her:
"I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop dead frozen from a bough,
without ever having felt sorry for itself."
So, here's to Cath, our very own "wild thing", who never once, despite what she faced, felt sorry for herself. I, and I'm sure the rest of us at the Pathways Group, will never forget  her and her incredible bravery.


bazza said…
I'm sure Cath would have proud of this eloquent eulogy, David. It's a reminder that the happiest people are those who make the best of the cards they are dealt.
(Incidentally DH Lawrence was an excellent poet; something not widely recognised. For example see 'Snake'.)
Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’
David said…
Dear bazza,
Thank you for your kind remarks. I do hope that those who knew Cath will be happy with what I've written.
With Very Best Wishes,
P.S. On a lighter note, bazza, I do believe Stoke "hammered" (well, sort of) the "Hammers" yesterday in the F.A. Cup. Ah, revenge is sweet!
dcrelief said…
Dear David,

It's always wonderful to have upbeat people in our life. They have a way of helping us see hope in spite of daily happenings.

May your memories of her always replace sadness with joy.

In peace and goodness,
David said…
Dear Dixie,
Thanks for your kind comments.
In fact, only the other day at our group we were remembering Cath and some of the things she had said and wanted to do, and it was mostly laughter that was heard. So, although it is terribly sad, our memories of Cath will, it seems, always bring a little joy and laughter too.
Wishing you all the best,

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