Because those details are the same, you can be lulled into a false sense of security, thinking that other things that have always been there, or always happened in their particular sequence will remain the same. Sometimes I find it hard to believe that its been a decade since I started my new life away from the family home.
Then occasionally, we'll be driving about and I'll say
I get indignant.
Why has my Middle School been knocked down to make room for 1 bedroom flats that none of my friends could ever afford? (This is entirely true.)
That sorta thing.
Well theres also the times when you are chatting away on the phone, and a parental will say
And I usually didn't.
When I was growing up, many of my parent's closest friends were a contingent of single people in their 50s and 60s, from their church, who we used to sit with at functions, or get to know doing our things around the church (Sunday School, Serving, Choir) get together with, watch the installments of the televised Sunday night Narnia dramas (in the '80s) with a hot ribena with, make special Birthday presents for, take out or visit, and in later years invite over for Easter and Christmas. Whenever I returned, these friendly souls would greet me like a long-lost grandaughter, and there would be genuine concern in their voice when they enquired after my health, my new life, the children (who they also loved). There would be hugs and kisses aplenty, at the door of the church, on the rare Midnight Mass, Palm Sunday or August-visit that I rocked up for. We didn't keep in touch apart from that, and I suppose in many cases I never really knew them that well, but that was how it was. And it was fine.
Well I suppose, if that was then, and this is now, and time doesn't stop in your home town, when you move out into the big wide world, its inevitable that these people will become increasingly frail, poorly, dreadfully ill with parkinsons or heart conditions or breathing problems, or even pass on into the next room/ to meet their maker/ return to the earth/ be promoted to glory.... however your beliefs subscribe that you see it.
I see it as terribly sad, and a little shocking, that there are fewer and fewer of those wonderful people around, and each Wintertime, we lose more of them, sometimes quite unexpectedly. I can do the maths- and we can't take on old-age and win, but they were people who I thought would always 'be there'.
My dad went to one such sweet lady's funeral recently, and in this very old-fashioned medium-high (if you know what I mean) Anglican church, it must have made a refreshing change to see such raw emotion, and perhaps Joy, for such an occasion. He was telling me about it the other day- how dignified, wonderful it was. How in her beautifully lined resting place, in the most intricate and amazing dress, her family from abroad had payed very good money for the most superb send-off, and that their feeling was that she was, (complete with an open bible where she lay), 'ready to meet Jesus, in the most awesome resting place'.
It prompted this post.
I hope that the Choirmaster, the Head Server, the Church Wardens and Sidesmen, the Sunday School Teachers, and the Summer Club leaders who we learned so much from, and loved so much, did not suffer, and were ready to go. I don't have the same strength of faith as all of these wonderful people, but I do hope to meet them again some day, in some way.
This little post has sat around the drafts folder for a good few weeks, waiting for a quieter time to post it, while I tinkered with it. As I sit here contemplating two more Sympathy Cards, for those left behind by people that were taken cruelly, or just too soon, it seems... right. As an extra thought, it surely is also inevitable that as you enter your thirties and beyond, the older people of the family who once helped to raise you, also go. I've spent time recently with somebody who lost their father over a decade ago, and who is still blatently coming to terms with it. I suppose some people never do, but then I suppose that means that those who go are not forgotten....