What a day, what an emotional rollercoaster... But I'm glad I went; I'm not
sure I'd have been able to live with myself if I'd not, in retrospect at least.
Everything went smoothly enough, getting up to Hucknall a little bit earlier
than we probably needed to, though Mum had contributed some much-needed
crockery, so it was perhaps just as well.
A good many of us congregated at Jo and Tim's house, moving on to Mansfield
Crematorium, a few miles up the road, soon after eleven. The service was
beautifully done and a most personal affair. Jo's Catholic priest officiated,
but it was a sensitive blend of Christian and more humanist elements, with
plenty of anecdotal interludes - including one provided by my mum, recounting
their childhood. It was after the formalities of the service, as we were
invited - if we wished - to sprinkle blessed water over Tim's coffin, that the
enormity of the day really got the better of me, and I was very glad to have my
sister Ali and my brother's girlfriend Kim close at hand.
In the pouring rain we returned to Hucknall for the reception, a fine
opportunity to catch up with and get to know lots of people it would have been
nicer to meet under happier circumstances, but it was not an overwhelmingly sad
time by any means, and there were plenty of smiles and laughter. Part way
through the afternoon I agreed to run my mum's cousins Catherine and Richard to
the railway station, but we didn't stay an awful lot longer than that, with a
good two hours on the road ahead of us, just to get back to Milton Keynes.
As tentatively planned, Mum, Dad and I took a short walk to the Barge in
Woolstone this evening for tea, which brought the day to a natural and most
pleasant close - well, for me at least, as I waved Mum and Dad off for the last
part of their journey home, so they had another hour to go.
But if there was one bit of the day that will stick most in the memories of
those who were aware of it happening, it was when the hearse pulled up outside
the crematorium. Little Hannah innocently asked, "Who's in there?" Jo
replied, "That's your daddy." "And," added Hannah, pointing to her much older
half-brothers and sister Roger, Catherine and Timothy, "their daddy too."
Life is so precious, and we are ultimately so fragile.