Jeremy Butterfield

Making words work for you

Et lux perpetua luceat eis. Heu, heu mi frater!

20 Comments

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Two young boys look ingenuously at the camera. It looks like the 1950s.  Perhaps 1955 or 1956?

Look closely.

They are wearing ties. Ties–and jeans, which must have been very new in Britain then. Jeans that they could grow into, as the rolled-up hems suggest.

It must have been a special occasion; otherwise, the ties are inexplicable.

In fact, in those innocent days, having your photo taken was a special occasion. Having access to a camera was reason enough. Perhaps the photographer was an adoring mother or father. Perhaps it was a neighbour.

The boy on the right is the older of the two. Look at his right arm. It is bandaged. That was—presumably—because of his accident falling through the rusted roof of the old air-raid shelters behind where he lived.

The accident reported in the local papers that had his mother frantic with worry. But it could have been much worse: he had a sprained wrist, but no broken bones.

He looks childishly, abashedly smug at his exploit. He was always adventurous and disobedient. And he had his father’s mischievous sense of humour.

He would kick a football around with the other local kids. Go on to do Outward Bound, be an all-round athlete at school, a lightning-fast wing in rugby, and the All England Schools’ Champion in the 880 yards (aka, 800 metres).

His wee brother was happier playing on his own, weaving stories to himself with his toy knights and his toy soldiers. A simple extrovert/introvert contrast.

Slow forward sixty years. The roles are reversed. Younger brother is taller; older brother is slighter. But stature doesn’t matter.

b_e_marina_rupe_me_with_feet

What matters, Rupe, is feeling. Those other pictures I have from our childhood show you holding my hand, looking after me, your daffy younger brother. You were always, and always will be, my big brother.

“You disappeared in the dead of winter.” Pace Auden, the brooks were not frozen. The airports were far from deserted (it being Christmastime, and, despite the devaluation of sterling, those who could afford it were off to their accustomed skiing or sunshine holidays). Therefore, snow did not disfigure the public statues (which, in any case, had mostly been stolen to be melted down for scrap). The mercury probably did not sink in the mouth of the dying day.

But, it was, indeed, your last afternoon as yourself. “An afternoon of nurses and rumours.”

Your wife and children, happily/sadly, were there to ease your passage into eternity.

Et posuit cadaver ejus in sepulchro suo, et planxerunt eum: Heu, heu mi frater!

And he laid his carcase in his own grave; and they mourned over him, saying, Alas, my brother!

(1 Kings, 13:30)

Rupert William Spencer Butterfield: 1 May, 1947—20 December, 2016.

Et lux perpetua luceat eis.

 

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Author: Jeremy Butterfield

Editor of Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage. Writer, wordsmith, copywriter, copy-editor and lover of words. I provide editing, web copywriting, and marketing copywriting services in the Central Belt of Scotland, including Stirling, Glasgow, Edinburgh and surrounding areas, as well as throughout the UK. You can find me on Twitter @JezzB2.

20 thoughts on “Et lux perpetua luceat eis. Heu, heu mi frater!

  1. Mr. Butterfield,

    Thank you for sharing those touching memories and photos with us, with me.

    My heartfelt sympathies,

    Emanuela Zanchi

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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  2. Wonderful, very moving piece, Jems. So sorry for your loss.

    Like

  3. That is so beautiful and moving, Jerry expressing your deep love for your brother. May he now be at peace. “What will survive of us is love”.

    Tried to send a comment but not sure it got posted, I hope 2017 proves to be a happier year. Talk soon.

    Love,

    Jo. Sent from my ASUS

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  4. A truly moving tribute …

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Qué maravillosa despedida!!! Te acompaño en tu tristeza querido amigo. 

    Enviado desde mi dispositivo Samsung

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  6. A lovely tribute to your brother, Jeremy. I am sorry for your loss.

    Laura

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  7. Hi Jeremy

    What a beautiful announcement / tribute!

    I’m planning to be there on Friday.

    Let me know if there’s anything I can do.

    Nick

    ________________________________

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  8. Hello Jeremy

    Sorry to read of the loss of your brother. Your tribute to him is just beautiful.

    Love
    Joyce

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  9. No Latin phrases back, I’m afraid, Jeremy. Just deep condolences for you and the rest of his family, and good wishes to find the strength through the coming months.

    Like

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