Saturday, 10 May 2008

Courtesy In Death

It is very difficult to get across to family and friends back in the UK, what is different about people here where we live.

The closest we ever get is to describe it as how it must have been at home 50+ years ago.

Politeness and courtesy is still endemic across the generations. Often it seems very alien to us - which is a very sad statement about the life we left behind.

Young adults are polite and at gatherings will still wait to be spoken to before contributing to conversations.

If a child is found to have mis-behaved, a parent brings them around to the house and they are expected to apologise.

If you see someone you know, you ALWAYS stop walking or pull up in the car to say hello. It would be very rude not to.

Older people are ALWAYS referred to as Monsieur or Madame and never by their first name - unless you are invited specifically to do so.

Friends and neighbours are caring and will willingly offer practical help in times of need, without being too claustrophobic. Privacy is respected, but nothing is too much trouble.

It could even be described as an old-fashioned way of life. And we have to be careful and remember this lest offence be given unintentionally.

A death of a relative, even one not known to the village, is an event that must not be ignored.

When the father of our neighbour died last year, everyone visited their house to offer their condolences.

We all contributed to a wreath for the grave. And EVERY family in the village was represented at the service. People took a days holiday in order to be there, for someone they did not actually know personally. The point is - we live in a village and everyone is part of this community.

This month, the Grandmother of our neighbour died, someone who had never visited the village. But it was the same. Everyone made the courtesy visit to offer condolences and we all contributed to a wreath.

In both cases, a hand written card was sent to each of us who had signed the wreath by the senior member of the family, to thank us for our condolences. We had not come across this courtesy ever before.

It was humbling to see that they had taken the time to write and post personal messages, even to people they had never met but who had taken the time to think of them in their time of sadness.

1 comment:

Alex said...

We have had similar experiences. One time Jan and I were walking through the village and a small child walking past us, that I hadn't even noticed, greeted us with 'Bonjour Madame et Monsieur.' This little mite embarrassed us and taught us some good old fashioned manners. I say hello to everyone now.