What’s in a name?

Yeah good point, Shakespeare. When he posed it though, it was all about the stupidity of a conflict that had been raging between two families.

Today I wanted to write a condolence card for the widow of a man who passed away unexpectedly. The widow is from Thailand. I went to their wedding and although I know how to pronounce her name, I would not have the first idea how to write it using our alphabet, or even the Thai alphabet for that matter.

Her Australian husband, who died suddenly and  about whom I wrote about a couple of days ago was probably one of the best known figures in the little community of dog walkers in our area, but therein lies a problem: I can tell you the first name of everyone who walks their dog in the park. I can tell you the names of their children. I can tell you the names of their dogs, I can tell you whether they were rescue dogs or chosen from a litter and purchased from a breeder but I can not tell you any one of their surnames.

Neither had a funeral notice appeared online to give me any indication. In any other circumstance, I might have used the comic foil of addressing the card to “mrs [insert first name of husband] but it was really not appropriate.

In the end I went with ny brother’s advice. He lives in Thailand so I sent him the name to ask for guidance on how it might be spelled in English. He assured me there were so many variations that I could basically guess it and rest assured that no offence would be taken.

I had bought a condolence card but knowing how bad my hand writing is and how I always make mistakes, I determined to find a few words to say and started to write. The card had an insert tastefully inscribed with very few words on cream paper.

I buggered it up almost immediately.

I then found some writing paper in the house and penned a short message, but messed up the ending, so re-wrote it. Then I tried  to unglue the insert paper on the condolence card where I had written my first, disastrous message with a view to perhaps inserting my note instead. It did not work. Neither did trying to re insert the now pickle-stained pages of the insert paper withthe first message cut off on the glue that was left behind on the card. I think for once, hand-made cards trumped my complete cack-handedness at composing a sentence that was legible.

I was left wth a little message, in my altogether impossible handwriting, not in the card, but in a letter and containing words and phrases that if she is lucky enough to be able to read (given my appalling handwriting) she will be lucky to decipher, given her limited English. I dropped it around to the house with another dog walker who was delivering flowers on behalf of yet another dog walker.

Widow, sister three young children and mum were at the house. They had just got details for the funeral and urged us too attend. I was unable to give her a hug as my job during the time we met them at the dorrway to their home, was to keep four dogs on their leashes while they all strained to get at the cat as our condolences were delivered.

Death is hard work.


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