Graveyard recollection

Mar 6th, 2011 | By | Category: Ministry

A second country funeral in four days.  Again the congregation being twice or three times what anyone might have anticipated.

Each such occasion brings thoughts of Davey, whose funeral is now more than twenty years ago, yet remains as fresh in the memory as event last year.

Davey died a month short of his 99th birthday; his store of stories was endless, nothing more than five miles away yet being born in 1891 he had lived through the whole of modern history.

There was much laughter with Davey’s family at the order of service for his funeral.  There were more hymns sung at his funeral than he had sung in his life, then perhaps if I had been in Davey’s place I wouldn’t have gone in for much hymn singing either.  Church was a place for people in fine clothes, Davey found peace walking his fields with his dog.

Davey called me “Mister Poulton”, he was sixty-nine years older than me and he called me “Mister.”  It seemed daft at the time.  Maybe, looking backwards, I can understand.  He was comfortable in a world where things and people had a secure place, keeping clergy in their appropriate compartment was part of Davey’s order of things.

The clusters of people in the churchyard recalled Davey’s funeral on a sunny September afternoon.  It was hard to be filled with grief when the deceased has lived for ninety-nine years, all but one month, and had been putting up a new fence with his son three weeks before he died, having shot a rabbit for the last time when he was 94.

So many memories of Davey bring smiles.  The lady buried this afternoon was a picture of contentment, but few people could have matched Davey when it came to the contentment stakes.

Davey and his wife of six decades used to get there groceries delivered each week by Ciarán, the owner of the local general stores.  One Thursday afternoon, Ciarán swung his van into the farmyard and walked in through the kitchen door with the box of groceries.  Davey and his wife were sat either side of the fireplace, both sleeping in their armchairs after lunch.  Ciarán took the local weekly paper from the box of groceries, pulled a third chair up to the fire and sat and read the paper until one of them stirred.

It was a picture of perfect tranquility.  Standing this afternoon, watching mourners, I wondered how Davey was enjoying the eternity in which he didn’t really believe.

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