Ian Innes MBE RIP

A few weeks ago my Uncle Ian died. He was my day’s elder brother (by one year) and they were very close. Ian and his wife Marie lived in Headingly, Leeds and used to come up several times a year to spring Dad out of the Twilight Home for the Bewildered and take us all out for a lovely lunch. Ian and Marie were great characters, having lived and worked for many years in Kuwait, with great stories and love for us all. We always enjoyed their visits.

Sadly, just over a year ago, Ian was diagnosed with Alzheimers. Last year was their last visit to Edinburgh and it was shocking to see how quickly he was forgetting things. There was dad with dementia who hasn’t improved or got worse really since his diagnosis 14 years ago, and within months Ian was forgetting us so quickly.

Ian’s wife Marie is a Roman Catholic and decided that they should move house into sheltered accommodation where they could have help on hand. Marie’s church is a convent which has rooms and all the help she needed so they moved in there. But within six months Ian was too much for her to look after and he had to go into the Nursing Home part of the convent where she could visit him every day.

Then he died peacefully with Marie, nuns and a priest by his side. It was a comfort for Marie and I’m sure for Ian, if he was aware. My sisters and I and my youngest son were able to go to the funeral last week which was held in the chapel of the convent. Marie had told her priest, Fr Dan, that I too was a priest and he asked if I would like to take part in the funeral. It was a generous ecumenical offer and so I took my robes.

Fr Dan and I met the coffin at the door of the convent and I noticed that all the nuns had come to watch and pay respect. We processed in with the coffin behind us and as I turned I realised that it was not the undertakers wheeling the coffin in but four of the eldest nuns. It was really so beautiful to see. The chapel was full with standing room only, Marie was brave and dignified, and the overwhelming scent of lilies were in the air. I had been asked to do a reading and the Commendation which was an honour and privilege.

After the funeral the family went on to the Crematorium while the guests tucked into the ‘purvey’ waiting till we returned. At the Crem Fr Dan asked if I would do the prayers. He really was exceedingly gracious to me and I know it meant a lot to Marie.

It was good to leave Marie knowing that in her mourning she will be looked after and cared for my the clergy and nuns in the convent.

Our journey home by train was a complete and utter disaster, but that’s another story!

Rest in peace, Uncle Ian. May the angels lead you by the hand into paradise, a place where there is no more sorrow.

DadIan 2009

Ian on the left and Dad singing, I think, on the right!

7 thoughts on “Ian Innes MBE RIP

  1. Thank you for sharing this sad but heartwarming story of humanity at its best. Hopefully such a gracious and caring experience is becoming less rare than in the past. In the 80s when my father died after 29 years ministry in a C of S parish next door to a Roman Catholic convent, my mother, my sister and I were invited by the nuns to attend a special Mass for him. Through the years he and my mother had made many friends in the convent, often attending services and extending a reciprocal welcome on numerous occasions. Back then I don’t think they actually took part in each other’s services but had the nuns felt it to be appropriate he would have been glad of that.
    We were touched by the invitation, but even more so when the priest announced that he didn’t know if it was actually ‘allowed’ but that he was going to say the Mass for a priest.

    • Thank you for sharing. I wonder if convents are somehow out with the usual ‘rules’? I have to say I was surprised to be asked and then asked to robe and sit in the sanctuary. It was an honour I will treasure.

      • I think back then it was born of the respect he and they had for each other. The links had grown over many years. There were probably many such ‘small’ expressions of unity and friendship between churches that were kept quiet for fear of repercussions. Though I suppose in the confines of a convent there would be less chance of word spreading. It was still very unusual at that time. I like to hope that there is a greater (if gradual) softening of those barriers at least in some places these days, so it was good to read of your experience.

  2. I remember Mr. & Mrs. Innes as our Head Master & Head Mistress at my Elementary School in Kuwait called Al Nouri English School. Those were good old days; I wish the clock can be turned back. May Mr. Innes rest in peace.

    How is Mrs. Innes. Would love to see and hear about her.

    • Thank you for your kind comments. Marie is very frail now but still with a strong spirit! She is such a character and a very kind person.

  3. I’ve only just found your article online but had been told by an ex-Kuwait friend that Ian had sadly passed away. My parents – George and Diane Carnell from Bovey Tracey in Devon – were great friends with Ian and Marie in Kuwait and afterwards when they all moved back to the UK. I remember Ian and Marie from my childhood with great fondness. I would be extremely grateful if you could please pass on my love and best wishes to Marie. Thank you. Claire Wilson x

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