Guest Post: Death by Ruth Estevez (JIDDY VARDY BLOG TOUR)

Jiddy Vardy
Rating: 5/5 (full review to follow)
Buy/Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of ZunTold Books

Jiddy is a survivor. 

Rescued at birth, she grows up in Robin Hood's Bay, a village harbouring a dangerous secret. Just as romance blossoms and Jiddy finally feels like she belongs, figures from the past threaten to tear her world apart...

A thrilling tale of one girl's search for identity and love, set against a backdrop of smuggling and viole.

Today, I am so excited to have author of Jiddy Vardy, Ruth Estevez on my blog with a guest post about Death. Read the post below.

"I’ve always been fascinated with Death. Maybe that’s because it’s always been there.

Just before I was born and in the first few years of my life, all four of my grandparents, Mum’s very close auntie, who helped her a great deal, and an elderly neighbour, died.

All through my childhood, we visited elderly women. I was used to being around older people, both those we visited and also neighbours in the village where we lived. The first funeral I went to, was Lily’s. All I remember is sitting in the back of a huge black car. I remember the process of her sister, my god-mother, Auntie Katie’s aging and passing away and I didn’t think it was a very nice process. Auntie Katie wasn’t a real Auntie and she was the age of a grandparent. She moved from her home because it was part of the Bradford clearances, to a purpose built flat which she didn’t like, to a nursing home, and finally to a hospital which she dreaded going into because her step-daughter had died there of TB. Saying goodbye to Auntie Katie was like saying goodbye to a way of life from long ago.

Talking of TB, I was brought up living near Haworth, where the Brontes lived. We’d troop up the steep main street to the Parsonage and the graveyard jam-packed with old gravestones, learning how the flat ones like table tops trapped in bad water and disease and added to the reason that the death rate was so high. And the girls! The two elder Brontes, Maria and Elizabeth died of TB at about 11 and 12. Later, Emily, Anne and Branwell and finally Charlotte died of it too. Weaver of Dreams by Elfrida Vipont, a book I was given one Christmas when I was about 13, was all about the childhood of the Brontes. I loved it and still treasure it. Death saturated Wuthering Heights, my favourite book in my early teens. I thought it was romantic and gothic and passionate. At this point, I was in love with the romantic idea of death, of ghosts and dying for a great cause.

And then there was village life! At the bottom of the lane where we lived, was a farm. I remember seeing a tiny, bloody lamb lying just off the path and half in a field. It was lambing time. On a farm, there was no room for being sentimental about death. My mum and dad were a young couple when we moved to the village and my sister and I were little. We were surrounded by older women, I remember. They were inspiring, strong, a bit scary sometimes, but they were also advisers. Wise ones. One of them was a seventh child of a seventh child. She saw ghosts all the time, just sitting around her living room, or in the garden. All these women have gone now. They were part of my childhood, and it’s sad when I think that they are all gone and that way of living and the freedom children had is in the past. On the other hand, I am so, so grateful to them and for that life. It’s not dead because it’s made me who I am and it’s fired my imagination, filling my head with stories. These women live on through my writing.

It still fascinates me, and I am planning on writing a wonderful ghost story, but death has also become real through immediate experience. The hardest thing I’ve ever done, is watching my mum die and that has to go into my writing. Well, it already has. I wrote a death scene in Jiddy Vardy but I took it out because the character didn’t die in the end! I’ve saved it though. This scene is definitely going to appear in one of my other books. That is the thing about being a writer too, everything can be used.

On another note, by thinking and exploring the rituals and thoughts surrounding death and dying, I’ve realised how little we talk about it and how it’s become a separate part to life for many. In the past, death was a part of normal life. It happened so often. Child mortality rates were high. There were no anti-biotics or inoculations. Housing in the industrialised cities was overcrowded and insanitary. Everyone was used to it.

I have just seen a short film about the way Irish people deal with dying. Other cultures to mine do this too. It makes me think that this is the better way. It isn’t hidden away. Death becomes part of life and by being present the entire way through a person’s last months or days, you can say proper goodbyes, you can tell stories, grieve together and accept. I’m not saying it’s easy, but I’m thinking, it’s less lonely and more healthy. For now, when I write about death and dying, it will be on an emotional level. I want to see how my characters work their way through one of life’s big transitions."

Don't miss the other stops on the Jiddy Vardy Blog Tour here:

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