Some sad news this week. I heard that my good friend and mentor, Eddie Small, had died.
We first met in about 2009, not long after I moved back to Scotland. We did keep in touch but it was only after I started working for the University of Dundee where Eddie was a much loved lecturer that we we began to meet more regularly. We’d often have coffee together, usually in the Level 10 Café overlooking Dundee. Conversation with Eddie was always stimulating and inspiring – he was someone with a genuine interest in whatever the person he was talking to was up to.
And in turn I was always fascinated to learn about the projects he was involved with. And delighted and honoured when he asked me to take a small role in a production of his play “The Four Marys”!
I knew, of course, that he worked extensively with Professor Sue Black and the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID). So when my father was thinking about donating his body to medical research, I chatted about it with Eddie and was able to give dad lots of useful information to help him make a decision. And when dad died, I turned to Eddie to help with a eulogy and readings.
That experience was a key factor in my deciding to train as a celebrant two years ago. And throughout the process, Eddie was a constant source of support and advice.
Of course Eddie had a special research interest in the culture of death and he regularly gave a talk on The History of the Scottish Funeral. In fact, I asked him to deliver it this year. It was held just before lockdown and I often thought in the following months how interesting it would be to invite Eddie to give a reprise and to explore some of the profound changes that have happened since that evening in March. We talked only a few weeks ago about doing just that. Sadly not to be.
Eddie was a man of enormous charm and boundless enthusiasm. Always interested in what others had to say. Always modest about his own achievements and talents which were many and significant. He’ll be greatly missed by so many friends, colleagues and by his family.
Goodbye my friend.