It was beautiful as long as it lasted – The journey of my life
Farewell my Friends – Rabindranath Tagore
Today we celebrated the life of one of my uncles who died shortly after his 100th birthday. It was, to be honest, a very pleasant day. We set off at 7.30, the roads were clear and when we arrived in Wendover it was everything you would want from a small English town. The Church is light and airy and was pleasantly cool on a day that saw my car temperature gauge reach 33 degrees C. The service was excellent and we saw the memorial cross in the header, pictured by Julia.
It’s just a shame, as we mentioned several times, that we only meet when someone dies. If it hadn’t been for that it would have been a perfect day, with good weather and five generations of the family there. I’ve never had a picnic in a church before, so today’s post funeral buffet was quite a strange experience. I couldn’t, initially, rid myself of the feeling that I was going to be told off by a church official as I balanced a cup of tea and a plate of sandwiches on the chair next to me, but by the end, I was much more relaxed. I managed to spill cream from the excellent scones on my shirt, but fortunately I missed my tie. The tie is now folded back in the glove box ready for the next funeral.
I think one of the kids might have given it to me, as it’s much narrower than any tie I remember buying. This is good – if it had been wider the cream would have fallen on it, and ties are not easy to clean.
Now, a quick word on the wooden cross in the picture. I may have covered some of this before. After the war, as the Imperial War Graves Commission (as it was then) concentrated all the smaller burial grounds into the larger cemeteries we see today and erected the permanent grave markers, they gave the families the opportunity to have the original crosses from the graves of their loved ones. As I interpret the various articles I have read, the families had to pay for the markers to be sent. For many of them, already struggling to get by without a husband or a father, this additional cost could not be justified. Despite this, around 10,000 were returned. According to a website I read this evening, the location of approximately 550 are known. That means either that there are 9,450 held in private hands, which is unlikely, as you would hear about them or see them for sale, or that over 9,000 have rotted, been thrown away or otherwise lost. That is what happens to our history if we don’t look after it.
Of course, you could say that about a lot of things.