Mann traoch, Gott läuch

Unexpected RoadThe title of this post is a Yiddish saying and translates as ‘Man Plans, God laughs’. Or as Woody Allen had it, ‘If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans’.

I thought about this yesterday when we attended the funeral of Howard, Mrs P’s cousin.

I won’t recount his entire life except to say that after a fairly shaky start in his youth, he became an accomplished engineer and moderately successful businessman.

He loved the outdoors and his idea of a stroll was a six hour hike across the Lancashire moors. He also loved sailing and had previous built himself a yacht.

As Howard approached retirement he set about his ultimate project – to build a 48 foot steel-hulled yacht which was to carry him and his wife wherever their whim took them.

I’ve seen the photo of the yacht as it took shape and it really was a massive undertaking that few people would attempt, no matter how ‘handy’ they were, and it was all hut ready to launch.

Howard and his wife had sold everything – the business, their home, furniture the lot – and they should have been setting sail about now. But they haven’t.

He was diagnosed with cancer in January and died in a hospice earlier this month. All Howard’s plans disappeared in a matter of months.

As I mentioned on John Gray’s blog yesterday, we may complain that life is a bitch, but death is a complete and utter bastard when it comes to scuppering the futures we’ve so carefully mapped out.

Hopefully Howard’s yacht will eventually put to sea, if not skippered by him. I think he would have liked that.

And I doubt if he saw his illness as God’s last laugh. He had no truck with religion and his was the first secular funeral I’ve been to and it was just as much a dignified celebration of a life as any other I’ve attended.

So here’s to you Howard, a good man with ambitious plans that he almost made reality. There aren’t many like him these days.

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4 comments… Add yours
  • First Mate Pudding 17th August 2012

    Could you and Mrs P take on the yacht project in Howard’s memory? I can see you now in your Captain Haddock sailor’s cap edging out of the Manchester Ship Canal into the Mersey bound for… Southport beach?
    So many non-believers end up with Christian funerals just because it’s easier. Well done to Howard’s immediate family for ensuring that his funeral service reflected his atheism without the tired hypocrisy of religious words.

  • rhymeswithplague 17th August 2012

    Your post brought to mind this verse from the book of Proverbs:

    “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” –Proverbs 27:1

    My condolences to you and Mrs. P.

  • Mr Parrot 17th August 2012

    Thanks YP (I think). Although me and Mrs P have sailed in the past, it was a long time ago and then as crew. Much as we’d like to, a 48 foot yacht is a bit beyond us. But you are correct about the secular funeral. The man who took it was excellent and he made sure to include those who did have faith. Apparently he his much in demand.

    And thank you. Although I’m not a person of faith myself that doesn’t mean that I don’t accept the wisdom of the texts.

  • Trevor Rowley 18th August 2012

    Mr Pudding: Religious words do not command a monopoly where “tired hypocrisy” is concerned so why try to convince the reader that that is the case? The human animal, being as imperfect as he is, will regularly be exposed and found wanting and being of faith (or otherwise) is not necessarily the key to it. I fail miserably on most days of the week but that shouldn’t stop me from aiming high.


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