Sunday, 13 December 2009

Susan Weeks Funeral

The funeral was tonight, in Egypt as everyone is buried immediately there are no facilities to do anything else.

It has been an incredible 24 hours, last night I came back from the lecture having had an wonderful 'welcome back' after my surgery. I had a nice dinner and was watching TV. Seconds later everything change. I got a phone call from a good friend who knows I always attend the lectures checking I was OK. Panic in her voice as she told the story of a European women who had drowned in the Nile after attending the lecture. Seconds later ex pats from all over are calling each other checking. Nobody knows who the missing lady is. I phoned out British Consul Ehab Gaddis and he had heard nothing but promised to phone me back with info.

His news was that a lady had been found and she might be American, could I help. So next thing I know police are phoning us and turn up 12:30 am. Very apologetic but can I help, they have photos, tasteful not upsetting but I don’t recognise her. There was a wedding ring inscribed SLH KRW 8/19/66. I explain this is an American format which does not mean she is American but is a definite clue. I told them husband’s name first (how wrong was I). they left and I set about contacting people. Isabella for Italians Anjte for Germans, Karin for Dutch but the American date format bugs me. I ask on forums and someone suggest Chicago House, I am big friends with the librarian so email her. It is 1am by now and I don’t expect an answer at this time.

2:50 I get a text message. I don’t pick up on it until 3:15 am. Marie thinks it is Susan Weeks. I reply immediately OMG. Then almost immediately get a phone call from Brett at Chicago House. He is with Marie. They think it is Susan. Brett volunteers to contact Kent.

Brett phones me back, Kent had not missed Susan, they had guests that night including Marie and Brett and had gone to bed separately. Brett asks gently is Susan there, Kent replies YES. Brett asks him to check. She is not on board the dahabiyya. It is confirmation we did not need. I often get requests from families for a boat and constantly say safety standards are not the same. We do not know what happened but it would be easy to slip and fall. There is a constant flurry of phones calls trying to identify police to talk to, Brett to get to Kent. It is a nightmare

Around 5 am we are sure, it is Susan, Brett is with Kent, the rest of us are praying. The call to prayer comes out and I spend an hour to praying for her and more for the living kent, the first grand child, the Luxor community. The phone continues

At 6:30 Ibrahim phones me, then call after call shock is the main emotion. Everyone is offering support, helping, wanting to help, the phone never stops, American Warden wanting info for the Embassy, shocked residents and missions. I phone as well, Melinda Hartwig answers with her chirpy reply. I bring her down to earth, I have bad news, she is gutted, Susan is truly loved and respected in the Egyptology community and as a person.

Eventually funeral plans are discussed, HamduAllah she is going to buried in Luxor, we have to wait until the authorities release the body and then with no undertakers or chapels of rest we have to bury her immediately. Mansour Boraik and Ibrahim Soliman senior SCA members spend the entire day helping with authorities, Speaking both English and Arabic and having credibility they are invaluable. The funeral is confirmed, more phone calls ... 5pm. A service that has respect and personality and with a few hours notice. Then we go to Tiba to the foreigners cemetery, a few get lost on the way as it miles away. Flowers on the grave, we honoured her. Then back to Chicago House, to see a tiny man replace the giant Kent Weeks. He starts to remember the good times and the happy life they have together.

Then I am back home, more calls from aboard ... 24 hours of pain, wonder, shock ……………………………… but let us all celebrate Susan Weeks life and remember her words

"Every morning as we walk into the Valley towards the tomb, I count my blessings. It is a privilege to be able to work here and to share it with my husband. Every day is magic still."


Unknown said...

I was in Luxor just a few weeks ago but I never had the privilege of meeting Kent or Susan Weeks but am truely shocked. She was such as valauble part of the Egyptology Community as is Kent. My thoughts and prayers go to Kent and his family.

Pamela said...

Thank you so much for sharing all this. Please let us know how Kent does in days to come. They were so close -- I can't imagine the pain he is going through. You expressed it so well -- a big man who has shrunk. Very sad.

Vincent said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Vincent said...

Thank you Jane for sharing this with us. What a sad day it is.

Alex Kent said...

As an American Egyptologist in LA, I am also in shock, having just spoken of Kent to a friend today in regards to the mapping project success. I have followed the valuable work and often wish to be there myself but my life follows a different path - at least for now. My heart goes out to Kent and all who knew Susan. The loss is great. My prayers to all.

Unknown said...

This is indeed tragic news. I spent one summer surveying with Dr. Kent Weeks and staff in the Valley of the Kings that I will never forget. My thoughts and prayers are with Kent and family for their loss. Susan will be missed by all who knew her.

Mickey Shackelford

Unknown said...

Kent & Susan are like family to me, not only was Kent my old boss but he and Susan became true friends of mine. I still find this hard to believe.
Nigel Hetherington

Jane Akshar said...

Nigel I thought of you during this time so much, big hugs

Leena said...

This is so so sad... I shall add my prayers to her family even though I did not know them personally. But I did know of their work. If they ever read these comments I would like to express my condolences. (Gosh that sounds so inadequate, as everyone knows who has suddenly lost a loved one).

I have heard only good things of Susan Weeks so I am sure I am not inappropriate in saying it was our loss, heaven's gain.


Unknown said...

She was a wonderful person. I was with her when she started the group in Maadi to help Children with Cancer.

kharyssa rhodes said...

I worked with Susan and Kent in 1994 on the VOK field school. I am so shocked and saddened by this news. Although I hardly knew Susan, she was kind and patient and I liked her tremendously. Kent was my professor for several classes at AUC and I have a great fondness for him as well. His absolute passion for Egyptology - even at 8am - always inspired me. I wish him, and the rest of the family, peace in these times. They will always be in my heart.

gray henry said...

DEar Kent.. We here in Louisville Kentucky send our deepest prayers for both of you.I am so grateful that when you were here with us we were able to take Susan to see the major horse farms ...i hadn't known of her immense knowledge of the horse world. And i still sleep the the wonderful brass Egyptian beds she put us all onto and we got back here to kentucky. Our family has loved living across the street in Maadi from you for decades... so many blessed memories. Most of all I think of Susan at the entrance to the tomb sorting shards... and to think she has been washed by the Eternal Nile and "goes forth into Day" in the very place she loved and lived. Amen oh Lord. I weep as i write this. Neville and John Hale send their love. Gray

Unknown said...

Dear Kent,
This is Gray's daughter Haajar - also an old AUC student of yours and your road 15 neighbour.
I cannot begin to imagine the pain you and your loved ones are suffering. May God help you through this most difficult trial and may you find Peace in Him. At this most Blessed time of the year is when your most precious wife was recalled to her Maker. This must be a good sign.
My husband Justin, my father Fedor and I are all praying for you, and asking God to lighten your heavy hearts.
Inna lilahi wa inna ilayhi rage'oun - It is from God that we come and from God to whom we Return, Amen. And we must all return to Him one day or another.
Susan shall be missed but what Joy to know her goodness, sweetness and devotion to her family, friends and work is what she leaves behind. No need to worry after her. For those left behind it is such a trial of loss. Time will heal all with God's Will - and only the happy memories will remain.
May God Speed.
All our Love to you Kent and to your family.
Haajar Gouverneur

Unknown said...

This is Naguib Amin, an SCA advisor
It is a sad day for all those who care about Egypt heritage and Thebes. My thoughts go to Kent, may God help him overcome such loss.

Rev. Tamara Siuda said...

We're still praying here in Chicago. How very sad.

Joyce Ingalls said...

Your friends in the States feel terrible about this loss. Susan was one of the sweetest and loviest ladies we have had the privilege to meet. Thoughts and prayers go with you and your family.

Joyce Ingalls