Back in Somerset for a few days, plans were made for the next visit.
Working as an examination aide in the school means working through the first week of the Easter holidays when the oral language and practical music examinations take place, so it will be Maundy Thursday, 14th April before there is a chance to catch a flight to Bristol.
The journey needs to be taken on the Thursday evening because on Friday it will be the annual round of family graves. There will be flowers to place on the graves of our great grandparents in Aller and of our grandparents in Huish Episcopi. Also in Huish churchyard, we shall go to the grave of Uncle Jack and my grandfather’s sister, Auntie Gus, (her name was Augusta Adelaide, but Augusta was not the sort of name that one found much in a small rural community).
Once respects have been paid at Huish, we shall go to Pitney, to the grave of my grandfather’s other sister, Aunt Ella, and her husband Uncle Clem.
Our family is not particularly religious, but there seems a symbolism in the Good Friday round, an affirmation of life. If one believes in death and resurrection, in the life of a world to come, then the going to the graves on a Good Friday afternoon can seem an anticipation of a day of triumph over death. Even if one is not religious, and my grandfather professed a belief that one should live rightly in this life because there was no life to come, then the calling to remembrance of much loved forebears is still a celebratory act, a bringing of them into the present moment.
It is Clem who prompts pause for thought. Three weeks ago, it was the fiftieth anniversary of his death. He seemed a very old man when he used to tease his grand nephew and nieces and make them laugh about the thunder box in the garden. Yet a check on his dates showed he was born in December 1896 and died in January 1972, he was just past his seventy-fifth birthday.
Seventy-five doesn’t seem so old. It is the age to which I hope to work if the government in Ireland should lift its compulsory retirement age. It seems an age when one can enjoy a good quality of life.
But perhaps it is not such a bad day to declare an innings closed. Clem was still in his own house, still delighting in life. If one was able to live seventy-five life-filled years, the age would seem a good one to reach.
Perhaps my grand nephew to whom I gave a card for his seventh birthday will one day look at my headstone and laugh at the games we played.