I've had today and yesterday off work to attend the funeral of Mike's Nan, Nina Gaudion Evans.
On Monday night we got the train to Lydney where Mike's parents Evan and Gina live where we were shortly joined by his brother Pete. We stayed up past midnight talking around the kitchen table, then got to bed knowing we had to be out of the house by 9am for the drive to Nan's house in Pembroke Dock where the close family were gathering before the funeral - daughters Gina and her sister Lyn, their partners and kids.
She'd asked people to wear red, so it was a lovely colourful little crowd in the chapel of the crematoriam, and to the couple of hymns and the prayers were added a eulogy from her son-in-law (and Mike's dad) Evan which included one of her anecdotes from her youth, and a song called "She's my kind of girl" which I presume was a favourite. It was touching, and a little sad in my case, but obviously much less so for me since I didn't know her. And I think people really did try to be thankful and joyful for her life and their memories of her while acknowledging their sadness to say goodbye. The Joyce Grenfell poem printed on the front of the order of service seemed perfect for the occasion.
Afterwards we went back to Nan's house, for a spread put on by Lyn and her partner Tom, which was really nice. Mike and brother Pete were catching up with their cousins Lee and Ashley, who they'd not seen in 13 years or so, and we talked to some of the rest of the family and looked through a couple of old photo albums, with plenty of good food and drink to go with it, until we had to go to get Pete to his bus. Apparently Nina had asked if she could have a trial run of her own wake, so she wouldn't miss it, but then had to go into hospital. Everyone agreed she would have approved.
We went back to Mike's parents' house for the night, and spent this morning looking through more childhood photos there before Evan and Gina came to see us off on the train home again. In a lot of ways it was a lovely weekend, and it's only a shame it was for such a sad reason, which leaves me feeling a little uncomfortable for having had such a nice time, though Mike tells me not to. He was glad I came, and that's what's important.
Life Goes On
If I should go before the rest of you
Break not a flower
Nor inscribe a stone
Nor when I am gone
Speak in a Sunday voice
But be the usual selves
That I have known
Weep if you must
Parting is hell
But life goes on
So .... sing as well
Joyce Grenfell, 1910-1979