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JohnS

Lynn RIP

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My first post for four weeks and so difficult.  My wife Lynn had a catastrophic stroke Sunday 7 May and died the next day - completely unexpected and shocking (Lynn was only 58).  She'd had awful sciatica which had made it difficult at times at the Royal Ballet; indeed for Mayerling, her favourite ballet, she'd sent me to report back but had hoped to make the final performances.  I'd just come home from that wonderful Federico/Laura Mayerling and Lynn was just as enthusiastic as me.  I was very unsure about when I might return to London and the ballet; I'd sent back lots of tickets, including the Mahler 9 LSO concert with Bernard Haitink conducting.  We'd thought it might be one of the last opportunities to see him conduct: we have so many memories of him as the Royal Opera's music director.  But the concert was broadcast, sublime - do catch it on iPlayer if you haven't heard it, and helped me make my mind up to visit London sooner rather than later, let a number of folk know the news, and take in the Ashton Triple bill if I could.

 

First a thank you for the kindnesses of so many and particularly ROH Box Office, front of house and admin staff.  I've been able to reserve Lynn's favourite seat Stalls H3 in her memory.  Thank you also to the Ballet Forum - still catching up on four weeks of posts but have very much enjoyed the end of the Mayerling thread.  Thanks also (again) to Bangorballetboy for those wonderful curtain call photos - Lynn loved them.

 

And the Triple bill?  So good to see so many of Lynn's favourites delighting audiences.  Loved the fairies - dare I single out Anna Rose's Moth in the rehearsal and then leading the corp; Laura, Akane and Francesca were all lovely as Titania; Steven's Oberon was perfect - properly had the menace with of course his technical mastery of all the steps; David Yudes as Puck is a super talent; and you can understand why Akane would fall for Bennet's Bottom - no real need for any magic potion.  Symphonic Variations is surely one of the most sublime ballets, certainly had me in tears at the rehearsal.  For the opening night I was in the Balcony, central, unrestricted and so it's wonderful to see the patterns being formed  That position also highlights when symmetries are not perfect - distances between three dancers, different angles of arms.  And as many have said Joseph Sissens was a revelation.  I found the Alessandra/Federico performances absolutely compelling, with Gary as the father, and more tears at the matinee (not just from me).  I thought Roberto Bolle started rather tentatively on the opening night but wonderful to see Zenaida.  Will catch the cinema performance next week.

 

So very bitter sweet for me but I'm very pleased to have made the trip and I will be back.  Very fortunate to have a returned ticket for the Royal Ballet School annual performance and booking for Autumn opens shortly.

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John, what a wonderful review ... which, in and of itself, is a brilliant memorial to your much loved wife, Lynn.  Her joy ... and that of the performances ... springs from your account.  Bless you for this ...

 

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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JohnS - so sorry to hear of your loss. I hope you continuing enjoying the ballet for yourself, and for/on behalf of your wife

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First JohnS so sorry to hear of the sudden loss of your wife how very sad for you and she was far too young. Thankyou for writing that lovely review remarkable in the circumstances.....but this triple is like a little jewel of a programme for me and cannot wait to see it on Thursday.

This leads me to another point especially as JohnS you have also singled out Joseph Sissens!  

But will put in a separate post now.

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So sorry, JohnS. 

The ballet is evidently a great source of comfort.

The continued cycle of new season, casts and works to see -and so especially the arrival and blossoming of talented new dancers-can be a consolation in time of sorrow I have found.

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For JohnS - I am so very sorry to read of the loss of your dear wife. My sympathies to you and your family. 

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Very sorry to read your sad news John. But whatever you do, don't stop going to ballet. My late husband was a great ballet lover and I admit  I often see things that I know he would have loved and it makes me feel a little tearful, but in a way it's a happy link to the things enjoyed together.

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Beautiful and moving words JohnS. I'm sorry for your loss but it's also salutary to read how art and happy memories or associations can provide consolation in our darkest moments.

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JohnS - may I add my condolences to the others on this site. Sometimes you read something in a post which really brings you up short. I do hope that you will continue to get both solace and enjoyment from the ballet which we all love so much. I remember seeing MacMillan's Requiem shortly after my father died - so beautiful but so, so poignant, but as Jamesrhblack says above, somehow consoling at such a difficult time.

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I also send you my sympathy on your awful loss, JohnS. Your post was so full of courage, and love, and interesting and poignant observations. Thank you for sharing your news with us and for writing so movingly about what has happened. I'm so glad that you came to these performances, and that you will be back.

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My deepest condolences to you, John.  I know that Lyn will always be in your heart, and therefore very close when you are at the ballet or a concert and are thinking of her.  That way, you can still share the experiences with her, even though she isn't physically there.  My very best to you.  

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Such a moving post. I think if I had to choose one choreographer to provide consolation at such a time, it would be Ashton. I hope that he worked some of his magic on you this weekend.

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John S I just want to add my condolences, and to send along many hugs, and the hope that you might continue to find some solace and comfort in ballet. Your review was so moving to read, and I found myself wishing that your wife can always watch along with you, wherever she may be now.

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My deepest sympathy for your loss. May the ballet continue to be a source of comfort to you. 

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Thank you all.  I am deeply touched by the warmth of all your commiserations.  I'd never imagined that my post would have generated such a response and I can only apologise for so underestimating the kindness and generosity of Ballet Forum members.

 

I thought it might be better to ask moderators to move the condolences to a separate post and I am very grateful to John for doing so.  I'm sure they'll be a swathe of posts on the last performances of the Ashton Triple Bill.

 

Now having a separate post for Lynn and in light of your comments, I thought some folk may be interested to see something of Lynn's love of ballet and first the music chosen.

 

The Service Sheet included a few comments on the music:

 

When entering

The opening of Brahms' German Requiem with its hushed setting of 'Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted' provides much solace.  The recording is the classic 1956 performance conducted by Rudolf Kempe.

 

Commendation 

An den Schlaf  To Sleep

Komm, und senke die umflorten Schwingen,

Süßer Schlummer, auf den müden Blick!

Segner! Freund! in deinen Armen dringen

Trost und Balsam auf's verlorne Glück.

 

Come and lay your gossamer wings,

Sweet slumber, upon my weary eyes!

Protector! Friend! in your arms come

Solace and balsam to my lost happiness.

 

Schubert's 'To Sleep', just four lines and one page of music, is so simple, the tenderness of 'Protector! Friend!' at the start of the third line exquisite.  Baritone: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau; Piano: Gerald Moore.

 

When leaving

Listz's 'Mephisto' Waltz provides much of the music for the opening scene of Act 2 of Kenneth Macmillan's 'Mayerling', Lynn's favourite ballet.  The 'Tavern' scene (euphemism acknowledged) is a celebration of the joys of life and love with friends and encapsulates Lynn's love of life.  Piano: Leslie Howard.

 
My Eulogy for Lynn included a few paragraphs about her love of ballet:
 

"Ballet meant so much to Lynn.  Whilst there were difficult times with her sciatica, there were also wonderful occasions when performances transported her: the utterly captivating Aurora debuts of Francesca and Yasmine in Sleeping Beauty.  We learned after that Francesca had been ill which may have underscored the so touching vulnerability she brought to the role and how radiant she was in the grand pas de deux.  And I'll never forget Lynn virtually jumping out of her seat with a scarcely suppressed 'Yes!' when Yasmine completed her Rose Adage balances, not requiring any support from Bennet, the last Cavalier, with his hand at the ready.  

 

For such very special occasions Lynn loved to arrange for bouquets and smiled so broadly when they were presented on stage, or she would leave some jewellery back stage with a little thank you note where a junior favourite dancer had given such enjoyment in smaller parts in a run of performances. She loved to have a few words with dancers at the stage door.  After the most gut wrenching performance of Anastasia she was so pleased to thank Laura and explain just how much the visceral dramatic ballets meant to her.  Laura's emphatic agreement 'Exactly and that's why we do it for people like you', together with such a warm embrace, meant so much to Lynn.

 

Since Easter Lynn has encouraged me to go to London and report back on a talk by Anna Rose, one of our favourite dancers whose signed pointe shoes Lynn was delighted to get in a charity lucky dip auction of dancers' pointe shoes.  We'd seen Anna Rose in The Nutcracker just a few day's previously to the auction, a performance which provided much of the material for the BBC's Nutcracker documentary.  Most recently I've been reporting back to Lynn on several performances of Mayerling, her favourite ballet.  'Skype'ing Lynn after performances, we could share much of the drama and Lynn was so keen to find out how well Laura, Francesca, Anna Rose and everyone else had done.

 

Our last evening, I was home from the Laura Mayerling early in the afternoon.  After supper we enjoyed a quiet evening, watering and tending the garden.  Lynn always came for a cuddle in bed, my arm in the air as she snuggled down with her head on my chest.  She always had such warm hands but cold feet and she would turn over and warm her feet on my legs.  She'd had some leg pain in the evening and in the early hours her leg pain woke her.  The leg pain eventually eased but she then was hit with an appalling head ache and almost immediately collapsed unconscious.

 

Lynn's desperate worry, has always been of being massively incapacitated, with all the accompanying indignities.  It was apparent that the stroke had been catastrophic and Lynn never regained consciousness.  To the last Lynn followed her principles, with organ donation helping to meet others' needs.  How wonderful the RVI Intensive Care team were, with Taz and Sarah providing such gentle, generous care for both of us.  How good it was to see Dr Alan Sweenie conduct the final brain stem death tests, almost balletic in the deliberate, slow pacing and extraordinary attention to detail.  He gave such an informative commentary and showed Lynn the greatest of courtesy.  And Lisa and Tracey from the organ donation team.  Lisa worked a 24 hour shift, most of it concentrating on Lynn and how recipients' needs could best be met, whilst always showing me such kindness.  She helped us take hand prints together, just overlapping a little as if touching, and lovingly plaited a lock of Lynn's hair.  I cannot comprehend how these people, and their many colleagues whose names I don't have, are able to do such a demanding job with such care;  and I know Lynn who so loved her clinical work and colleagues would have been so impressed.

 

Lynn's love of nature and ballet are brought together in Song of the Earth and the heart-achingly beautiful closing pages:

 

The dear earth everywhere blossoms in spring and grows green

Anew! Everywhere and forever blue is the horizon!

Forever ... Forever ...

 

In Kenneth MacMillan's ballet, to these words the Girl boirees backwards to and fro across the stage and is met by the Man and the Messenger who all join hands and, in ultra slow motion, they walk towards the front stage as the curtain slowly falls, in the most memorable performances dissolving in silence.  And I know we will all be holding Lynn's hands as she finally dances to the blue horizon.

 

I, and all of us, love you, miss you terribly, and will always remember you.

 

Thank you so much for everything, my beloved Lynn."

 

A final note note on the flowers.  The florist managed to match pointe shoe pastel with Prima Dona roses - beautiful.  The flowers after the Service at the Crematorium went to the tiny church of St Bega's on the shores of Bassenthwaite Lake, close to where we live, only accessible by footpaths, and absolutely idyllic: a place of beauty, wonderful flowers in the churchyard, and serenity. We've visited many times, including our last walk together, and it has been greatly comforting to have so much quiet time there in recent weeks.  

 

I'm sure St Bega's, music and ballet, together with the kindnesses of so many, will continue to provide much solace.

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John, those are lovely posts. I'm so sorry for your loss. Take care.

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John, your tribute to your beloved wife has brought me to tears. I am so very sorry for your loss. 

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What incredibly beautiful words and thoughts from the service John. Thank you so much for sharing them. You will have so many strengthening and consoling memories of Lynn and it sounds as if her care at the end was absolutely outstanding which I'm sure will also sustain you. You were clearly very blessed in her, and she in you.

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My heartfelt condolences go out to you. What a wonderful gesture to name her favourite seat in her memory. The music chosen for the service reflects Lynn’s and your love of ballet and music so beautifully, and I hope the two art forms will be able to provide continued solace to you.

 

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An incredibly moving post. Thank you JohnS for sharing this beautiful tribute and so many lovely memories of your dear wife Lynn. I am so sorry for the enormity of your loss. I hope that ballet, music and revisiting your special places will all help in giving comfort at this time.

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May I say that I too was deeply moved by both your posts John.  Your wife was obviously a much loved and now much missed lady.  I am sure her deep love of ballet will live on through you.

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What an absolutely beautiful eulogy, John.  I'm so terribly sorry for the shocking loss of your beloved wife at such a young age.  It sounds as if your last evening together was tranquil and happy despite Lynn's leg pain.  I am sure she will be with you in spirit as you continue to enjoy and take comfort in ballet.  My most sincere thoughts are with you.

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John, I was so very sorry to hear of Lynn's death. There is nothing that anyone can say to make the next few weeks and months any easier for you. The loss of someone we love dearly is something that never goes away - I would say that we think of them even more often when they are no longer with us - but it is something that we learn to live with and in time we find peace. Lynn will be in your heart and your thoughts at all times and I am sure that you will feel her beside you when you need her most. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your feelings with all of us. Lynn was much loved and her love, I am sure, will always be with you.

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John I am only just reading this post now. I'm so sorry to hear of Lynn's death. I cannot imagine what you must be going through. But I just hope that, in some small way, the wonderful, beautiful world of Ballet will be able to bring you some brief moments of comfort and happiness. I will say a prayer for both you and your wife.

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