A tribute to Edith Carnow by Jeff Doorley

This article was first published in Itchen Valley News June edition

In Fond Remembrance of Edith Carnow by Jeff Doorley

Carnow Edith FC - May 2014

Edith’s life consisted of three distinct phases: her childhood in the South East of Ireland in the townland of Staplestown, Co. Carlow, her nursing career in the QAs (Queen Alexandra Royal Army Nursing Corps) and her life here in Martyr Worthy. Each of them contributed to the person she was, and she was special. She was a very private person, not one to broadcast her opinions to the wide world or to wear her heart on her sleeve, she got along with life and all the challenges it had to throw her way, with the no-nonsense air of practicality and acceptance that her army training had given her and her upbringing had taught her.

Carnow Edith BC - May 2014

She rose to the rank of Major in the QAs and enjoyed her work but when the time came she willingly left that behind her to marry Mark and eventually, to settle here in the beautiful Itchen Valley. When Mark passed away Edith chose to stay here as this had become her home and she continued to live quietly with visits from old friends or family members to punctuate the time. Her only sister, Aideen passed away several years after Mark, and the time that followed was difficult for her but she carried on without complaint.

She was happy here, she rarely travelled far except to visit family and friends, and she welcomed those occasions when somebody came to visit, with the caveat that visits should always be announced in advance. She was blessed to be surrounded by people who give the full meaning to the word ‘neighbour’ and not just someone who lives nearby. As the years passed she came to rely more and more on the kindness of her neighbours and friends to look out for her and lend a hand when she could not quite manage by herself. She was a fiercely independent woman, sometimes infuriatingly so, as she would only do something, such as embark on a journey or a holiday, if she had it well planned and organised. But this was more to do with her desire not to be a burden on anyone than anything else.

Edith didn’t cause tidal waves, ruffle feathers or leave a large footprint; her mark on the world is felt only in the people who knew and loved her. She was unassuming and unobtrusive and displayed qualities and a character that belong in a bygone age or at least so it might seem to many people of our generation. She lived according to the spirit of her age and was for many of us a lesson in fortitude, self-respect and quiet perseverance. She often said that it was important to keep one’s mind active and she read the newspaper every day to keep up to date with all that was happening in the world around her even if very little of it encroached on her life here.

Edith was a very private person but that’s not to say she was distant; she was charming and funny and engaging. She loved to chat about what she called ‘frivolous matters’ and hid a great sense of humour behind her general air of propriety. In her quiet way, Edith had a surprisingly large impact on many people’s lives. We are the poorer for her leaving us, she will be sadly missed but forever after remembered with the deepest love and fondness.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas


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