Saturday, 1 January 2005
Deeply sad news today that my dear friend Sheila Staunton has died. She was 62 and had had cancer of the stomach for the last couple of years, she was such a trooper. I met her when I began working with Ledbury Festival, and stayed with her when ever I was working there or just down in that part of the world, she volunteered to help out so she would put traveling poets up in her wonderful big house. We hit it off from the start. She taught me how to drink whisky, I recommended poetry to her. She was my surrogate mum, my own mother being deeply abusive, I would turn to Sheila when there was no one else, and she in her loving way would tell me what a silly bugger I was being. She had been a rock through the very difficult times in the recent past, and great fun throughout even though she was dying. She was a great lover of black labradors and I'm happy to say her gorgeous dog 'Bramble' has a good home. Her funeral is on the 11th, I will try to write something appropriate; the words rock, dogs, whisky and good humour are all hers. I don't know what else to write as I have only just got off the phone with Sheila's sister who rang to tell me, as everyone knew how fond of each other we were. I don't think it will register until after the funeral, so I'll put her name on my shrine and light a candle, raise a prayer and a large one of the good stuff. As I've said before, we seem to be saddled with the god of death and loss, it is how we live in the face of these things that make us. Aristotle says that the proof of a good person are the works they have produced that are in accordance with the actions of their soul, Sheila's work was her friends and the children she taught when she was a teacher....Soul work indeed.