Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Kate Carmichael and Me

A Tribute from Ricky Clark

My first encounter with Kate was nearly seven years ago whilst I was a barman in the Kilchoan Hotel. She came to the bar, ordered a drink, and told me to give it to a gentleman in another part of the room. This I did, the gentleman shouted his thanks over the bar, and Kate, as quick as a flash, gave a reply which nearly floored me and had the bar in uproar. I’ll not tell you what she said but ask me when you see me and I will. We spoke in the bar later that evening and this was the start of our friendship. At first Kate was a friend and then, as time moved on, I began to look on her as more of a mother figure. I knew then that I had to look out for her and take care of her, she was so precious.

I visited a couple of times a week at first, doing little jobs around the house, taking her places and getting messages from the shop and such things, but mostly we chatted and kept each other company for an hour or two. Kate was so witty, sharp-minded and funny, her stories of people, of places and of the happenings in her life and those of others were so epic I could listen to her all day. One story was about the time some holiday makers were living in Port Bheag and Kate was in the caravan, and she was invited inside and shown around her own home - yet said nothing to ruin their hospitality. And, another time, when more good-minded holiday makers took her on a trip to Sanna also thinking she was a visitor. Again Kate said nothing to spoil their act of kindness towards her. Or the time on a Glasgow bus when the lady sitting next to her started chatting and asked Kate where she was from. Kate's one word reply ‘Ardnamurchan’ brought the reply ‘Oh it must be very strange for you in this country’ - priceless.

As the years rolled on Kate's health began to fail and my visits took on a more serious role - not that I was the only one looking out for her, as Kate had her family, nurses, home carers and many other friends who visited regularly. But I began to cherish my time with Kate as she was becoming more and more housebound. I tried to make my visits more fun and would have her teaching me Gaelic, much to Mary and Morag's amusement as most of what she was teaching me they would say was ‘nonsense’. But I did learn to sing ‘The Cailich and the Chimelar’ - which I won't torture you with now. We were also all set to get married at Kate's insistence, as word had got out in the village that we were an item but, before the day arrived, Kate wanted it to be first of April any year. Then I found out that she was already married. It seems this took place at Port Bheag in the 80s when she married the DL, the service being carried out by her sisters. Oh was I jealous, so and I changed the date of our pending nuptuals to 31st of February, what a fool.

Kate loved listening to Morag on Radio nan Gael every morning and the Friday requests programme. We would talk about some of the songs that had been played. One day she asked if I had heard a song played by someone named Archie Grant. I hadn't but got my phone out and found it on the web. This amused her greatly and she laughed all the way through Archie Grant singing 'Ta Ra Ra Boom Di A'. From that day on if anybody asked a question we couldn't answer she would say ‘It’ll be on Ricky's phone’.

During my visits we drank copious amounts of tea and ate our way through packets of rich tea biscuits. Kate was very fussy about her tea: it had to be loose tea, one spoonful in the same cup and not just any loose tea but PG Tips which was becoming harder and harder to find. Friends brought her all sorts of loose tea but mostly they just weren't right. I eventually found a supplier on Amazon and managed to keep Kate supplied with her own private stash tucked away in the back of a cupboard.

As time moved on Kate's health began to deteriorate and now my visits became more of the caring type although we still had fun and a good laugh right up to my last visit on the evening of Thursday 19th December. I did all I could to keep her spirits up but she was becoming more and more tired as the days went on, and at times we just sat and drank tea, that was enough for her.

Kate loved her family, cherished her friends, and was compassionate to everyone she met. Kate lived a long, happy and eventful life, my only regret is that I wasn’t part of it for longer, but I will cherish every moment that I knew her.

Kate was a friend to all of us here today, but to me she was more than that. She was, as I had told her, the mother I never had.

Goodbye dear Kate, goodbye.

Ricky gave this moving tribute at Kate's funeral yesterday afternoon.

1 comment:

  1. I am so sorry to hear of Kates passing, i had the pleasure of meeting her whilst on my annual visit to your amazing location, whilst stood at the bar awaiting my liquid pleasure she called me over and asked me if i wanted to take on a bet....curious i asked her what the bet was....a bottle of whiskey to see how many mens undergarments she could guess the colour of..i had a feeling she would have won if i had taken her up on the bet....she has me in fits of giggles all night with her witty banter, her company wonderful!!!