Thursday, 12 April 2012

Birthday memories

On Monday, I was treated to an early birthday lunch in a Penarth seafront restaurant before Kath, Anto and Rhiannon headed back to Kenilworth through the Bank Holiday traffic congestion. Then on the day itself Wednesday, we had a birthday breakfast and present opening, followed by a trip to Swanbridge, lunch at 'The Captain's Wife' and a walk over to Sully Island as the tide was going out. It was notably colder than my last visit with the Tai Chi Class three weeks ago, so we had a brisk walk around and then headed back to shore and drove home.

Thursday I took a funeral in the village church of St Cattwg in Pentyrch of the brother of a man whose funeral I had done only two months ago at 'the Res' in Ely. Both were keen sailors, members of Cardiff Yacht Club, and that guaranteed a large congregation. St Cattwg's is a Victorian rebuild of a mediaeval church on an ancient hillside site. The churchyard was circular before neighbouring houses encroached on its boundaries in another age. It dates back possibly to the sixth century. Cattwg aka Cadoc is very much a local saint, born c 497. He became Abbot of Llancarfan, not many miles from Pentyrch, a key Celtic monastic settlement. Both forms of his name are to be found in the dedication of churches all over South Wales.

The burial following the service in church was at the Vale Woodland Natural Burial cemetery, where we laid our friend Moonyeen to rest last summer. It rained as the coffin was entering and leaving church. We had intermittent sun and rain as we travelled across country through back lanes to the cemetery,  and as we arrived for the interment. There was a wet two hundred yard walk across an open field for friends and family carrying the coffin to a grave excavated on the edge of the escarpment, with a spectacular view across North Cardiff. 

Fortunately the rain stopped long enough for the Committal, and to allow us a glimpse of the scenery as we listened to 'Sailing' from a CD played on a ghettoblaster. For me, it gave the moment a surreal theatrical feel, like a scene from a post-modern movie you come away from feeling unsure whether you've really understood it or not - as if the silence of a windswept hillside was inadequate to gather up all those memories and feelings of one much loved but no longer with us. I remembered that today is my mother's birthday, the day after mine. And it's nearly forty years since we laid her ashes to rest in Thornhill cemetery.

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