Getting Ready to Say Goodbye

Dear Readers, at the end of a long day in Dorset there is something so comforting about the chacking of rooks and jackdaws as they roost in the trees in  Dorchester. There are some venerable horse chestnuts and beech trees right in the centre of town, and these act as beacons for the corvids who fly in from all directions. When they land, they talk away to one another for a few minutes before falling eerily silent, as the sky turns from mother-of-pearl to sapphire. Their ancestors have probably been roosting round about here since before the Romans came. 

Earlier today I caught the bus back to Milborne St Andrew, where the service for Dad will be held tomorrow. I love sitting on the top deck of the bus and peering into the fields as we speed by. Today I noticed that three of the big fields on the outskirts of the village are now full of sunflowers. They must be a special variety grown for their seeds, because the heads are so huge that they hang shyly down, and the petals are insignificant. Is this for vegetable oil for human consumption, I wonder, or is it for biofuels? There’s a lot of maize around too, as noted yesterday, and I suspect that this isn’t because the people of Dorset have developed a taste for corn on the cob..

I meet up with a friend who is doing the cakes for the refreshments tomorrow – E made the beautiful cake for Mum and Dad’s 60th Wedding Anniversary Party, and although she is 88 years old she is up to her ears in coconut cake and lemon drizzle.

Cakes from Mum and Dad’s 60th Wedding Anniversary Party in 2017. Note the freesias!

Then we walk down to the church. It’s harvest festival on Sunday, and there are sunflowers everywhere,  proper ones this time. Fruit is piled on the window ledges and there’s a distinct smell of apples.

Outside, Mum and Dad’s grave is a little overgrown – my brother, who lives nearby, has been self-isolating after his family got Covid, one after another, until he got it too. But someone has some secateurs, and so it’s easy to neaten it up, and tomorrow E will bring some dahlias from her garden to brighten it up. I am reminded again of what a lovely village Milborne St Andrew is, and how lucky Mum and Dad were to live their final years in a real community.

By the time you read this, I will have given my eulogy, and the Memorial service will be over, and I’ll be back home. I will share how it went with you on Monday. It feels as if we’re coming to the end of one stage, and the beginning of another. It’s time to come together and to remember, grieve and celebrate.

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