We had a batch of Christmas cards in the post yesterday, forwarded from the Vicarage. Despite our early mail out, many people printing address labels from their database may not have opened our card early enough to detect news of the change of address, and make the modification. So, our cards have come to us in three waves - one before we left for Canada, one as we arrived home, and now another a week later. One card with newsletter bore the sad news of the death of the wife of a contemporary from University days who died last year after a battle with Parkinson's disease lasting twenty years or so. Both of them faced this trial positively and courageously, exploring every new line of research and therapy, conscious of their solidarity with hundreds of thousands of people globally, similarly afflicted.
Another student contemporary of ours is also an early onset Parkinson's sufferer, now confined to a care home. We are that 'baby boomer' generation for which life expectancy has been extended by improved social conditions, health care, and medical innovation. I start to wonder how many others of our young graduate circle of acquaintance now also at retirement age are similarly afflicted or have already died.
We travelled up to Kenilworth this morning, to look after Rhiannon tonight, while Kath and Anto go with their band Lament to perform their Latino music in a village hall somewhere out there in Middle England. It's the second year in which they're toured rural venues and played to good audiences in out of the way places - the idea is popular and they're popular with a growing clientele. It's great to catch up with them after our Christmas away, and share all the news and stories of Canada - well, fill in detail not in the blog, or portrayed in the photos. It's six weeks since we last saw Rhiannon, who'll be seven years old next month. In that time away, I see changes in her - not so much physical growth, as development of confidence as she gets used to being able to rise to all the challenges of schooling and her cultural leisure pursuits. She put on a puppet show for us this afternoon, with an improvised script making use of Punch and Judy characters she's had for some years. I'm not sure I could follow it all. It seemed quite surreal in parts - not that she'd comprehend surrealism at her age.