I had a day out yesterday. It would have been my Nan’s 111th. birthday, so I went to Dodford Church, between Bromsgrove and Kidderminster in Worcestershire, where Nan, her husband, her sister and brother-in-law, her mother and father, my mum and dad and countless other close relatives are all buried or scattered.
It might sound a bit melancholy, and to be honest, I did shed a few tears on the journey there, but strangely enough, it’s such a beautiful, peaceful and homely grave-yard, that once I got there, I really did feel happy.
‘Doing the graves’ was something my Mum did on birthdays, at Easter and at Christmas. She’d always put bright yellow chrysanthemums and some green foliage from the garden, on her mother and father’s grave, her aunt’s and her grandmother’s grave (which is a tricky one because there’s no inscription – a good job I paid attention when Mum was alive) At Christmas, one of Mum’s friends who made wreaths, would put them on for her, but she eventually predeceased Mum (she’s buried there too), so after that, we’d make our own and take them.
When Mum died, she was adamant that she wanted to be cremated and she would often say that she didn’t want anybody to have the fuss of looking after her grave. Strange then, that now they’re all gone, one of the things I find most grounding and helpful, is a visit to ‘do the graves’.
I had a good one-way chat with them while I was arranging the flowers – yes, yellow chrysanths and foliage from my garden now, what else!.
Had my sandwich sitting on the bench in Margaret’s Meadow, overlooking the church, watched a foal with it’s mother in the adjoining field, and generally had a good commune with nature and thought about the long, hard-working, simple and I think mainly very fulfilled lives of my country relatives.
It wasn’t particularly sunny, but it was warm and it felt like a summer day should. Even though I’ve lived away for over thirty years, it still feels very much like home to me.