Recently there's been a death in my extended family.
A rather violent one that has left everyone a bit shocked and deeply affected.
Even the people who aren't suppose to be affected because of the distance to the deceased are having a hard time.
(Sorry being vague on purpose.)
Got me thinking about how we deal with death in the libraries.
We're a public facility and there's been times when a relative of a patron has come in and handed in the cards of the deceased.
In libraries the sum total of your existence is that card. You become a living breathing human being when you've got that card and you're bugging us for the latest novel by Danielle Steel.
Then someone comes in and says that this cards owner is gone and then we have to remove them from our Library Management System.
It feels wrong somehow.
It feels wrong that the person in question will no longer be taking books or sitting at a table and reading the newspaper and bugging us about a book.
I've done it now about 15 times, removed someone off the system (as euphemisms go it's apt in this case)
In my, I don't remember names I remember their little quirks and their idiosyncracies.
I knew them all you see.
Sadly I'm cursed with inability to put name to face. So I don't remember the names. I remember that Mrs A liked large print romances but it mustn't be historical romances because she likes the young bucks. Mrs Q, who inappropriately groped me by the copy machine and said that it was, all right, because her hands were clean.
One stands out in memory.
This man in his late early 60's, walks with a cane and loves his large print adventure stories. His wife was going bald and had a terrible comb over. She didn't care about it cos she was happy "accepting the gifts of getting older". She had a brilliant british accent, like Joan Plowright. And she always borrowed these rural pastoral English novels (Catherine Cookson) .
They were like clock work. Bang. every second Wednesday (we loan books for 14 days) they came in ambling through the door talking about something, brilliant British accent in full swing.
She always stood in the queue while he browsed.
Then one Wednesday it was just him, wobbling on his cane, alone in the queue.
His hand was shaking as he gave me the card and without preamble he said:
She died last night.
I took the card and removed her from the system.
I told him it was done. And his voice broke as he said Thank you.
I went into the staff office and cut the card.
Four pieces like we're suppose to.
Just sat there for a while, it was later in that week that I realised that I couldn't remember her name but I remember the accent and comb over. Not so good with names and faces you see.
To this day I don't know why he came in so soon after her death.
I've never had the courage to ask him.
He doesn't come in as regularly but he still does, once a month like clock work, and he's switched to westerns and romance, large print of course.