May 2007 C.I.C 'Bringing Tony Back to Crete'

Bringing Tony back to Crete

By Ann Trewartha

The shock and devastation of Tony's death left me numb.  It seemed so wrong that he should be gone so suddenly and unbelievable that that great heart should have stopped beating forever.

That weekend he had been his usual self: full of energy and lots of plans.  Tony had a huge appetite
for so many things, including food and wine.  It was this that gave him diabetes and also precipitated the terrifying hypo attack that evening.

Paramedics came and got him back to normal, but the damage was done: that great heart stopped beating.

After the huge emotion of the funeral and the wake I was in a state of numbness and disbelief.  My house
was full of cards, letters, 193 e-mails from all over the world and flowers, sent to express people's shock, love for Tony and loving support.  It seemed completely untrue, like some dreadful dream.

Over £1,200 was sent to Windsor Lions Club.  With this money they've decided to run an annual 'Tony Fennymore Award' for a promising young jazz musician.  This has already been started.

I knew that I had to bring Tony back to Crete, as soon as possible, and also before the tourist planes arrived, so that it was local.  There was so much of my own work to finish before I could get away, a License had to be applied for to bring his ashes out of the country, and a day had to be spent in the Greek Embassy, the Foreign Office, No 1 Scotland Yard and the official Translation Dept. in London Bridge to close Tony's Greek bank account (and that was just the English bureaucracy).

March 24th was the CIC Dinner, so it had to be March 25th, Greek Independence Day.  I booked my flight and asked friends in Hania to book the venue for the wake.  Due to Independence Day, it was difficult, but Mihalis rang that he'd booked Strata.  I e-mailed everyone and received masses of answers of loving support from so many friends in Hania.

Tony's ashes were delivered in a terra cotta urn with the License.  This upset me so much, until my daughter said: "Talk to him Mum, tell him what you’re doing and where you’re taking him."  This definitely made me feel better.

So off we went, me chatting away to him in the taxi, at Heathrow, in the plane, at Athens airport and finally on the 5:50am flight to Hania.  People must have thought me totally potty, talking away to my shoulder carrier bag.  At each security x-ray, it showed a bomb-like black shape, so I was treated with great suspicion, until the License was read, and then with such kindness, I was in tears.

The winds were so violent that our little plane couldn't land at Hania, so we had to go back to Athens.  Mihalis was waiting for me and watching the plane coming in at a dangerous angle.  Meanwhile, inside the juddering plane I was holding Tony on my lap saying "It looks like we're both going to land in Hania dead on arrival."  The Greek guy sitting next to me was crossing himself and giving me suspicious looks. Finally we arrived.

Walking up Theotokopoulou Street was a huge emotional experience.  This was Tony's village: friends and neighbours came out and held me; tears and so much sadness, but also love, warmth and kindness.

He was greatly loved and respected for being a good man, and also they knew how much he loved Crete and did so much to promote Hania (the EOT had a different feeling).

I booked into The Nostos as the thought of having to stay in Tony's house was too hard, and Yannis is so kind.  It was almost unbearable to have to sort out Tony's possessions at his house, surrounded by his books, his music, his office with all the files, his lectures, his photos, the little balcony where he'd sit and throw the key to the numerous friends.

Thank goodness for Myfanwy and her mum Jenny for their help.

The morning of March 25th was a perfect spring day. A few of our dearest and closest friends arranged to meet at Aptera.  Tony had always said he'd like to be buried like the ancient Greeks, with a beautiful view. We parked at the fortress.  It was peaceful, sunny and very quiet.  No-one was there, but below us we could see an old Greek woman, picking horta.  There were masses of wild flowers, yellow, blue speedwell and early flame poppies.  We walked down and all agreed on this perfect spot overlooking Souda Bay and the tiny island of Agios Nikolaos on the edge of the archaeological site: one of Tony's favourite views.

We buried him in the urn (I wanted him to be in one spot), and put wild flowers over the place.  We stayed a while and we all felt supported by each others sensitivity.  It all seemed fitting and as perfect as this difficult day could be, and we discussed scattering seeds and planting local wild bulbs; also, coming back in October. Possibly others might like to join us?

In the evening at Strata, 51 friends came for The Wake.  All nationalities: Greek, English, German, Irish, American, Welsh, Cretan, Scottish and Ukrainian, all with a common bond of love and grief for Tony.  He would have loved every moment of it: all the love, all the attention, all that huge energy. And being a wake, we ate, laughed, talked of how much we missed him, talked of all our memories and drank to his special gift for friendship, communication and respect for all his achievements. (I have since been e-mailed that originally it was called a Wake because people gathered before the funeral to celebrate the life with drink and food and hopefully the noise might wake the loved one up.)

Afterwards I was utterly wiped out but the huge emotional experience will stay with me forever.  I hope it doesn't sound too far-fetched to say that my heart was full with the love of all our friends in Hania. Thank you for being there.

At the wake we discussed the possibility of a permanent memorial for Tony in Hania, maybe a bench overlooking the harbour with an inscription: "TONY FENNYMORE LOVED CRETE"?  Any more ideas?

His books are still being sold: to carry on spreading the word and also for The Bench Fund.  They are available at New Kydonia, Mihalis’ weaving shop Roka and through Diana of Freelance Travel.

Thank you again.

Ann

Telephone (01753) 863218 or email ann.trewartha@btinternet.com