A straightforward drive from Cardiff to Kirton on Tuesday, using the M25 route, with less heavy traffic than I had anticipated, and decent weather, so the 205 mile trip was accomplished with two breaks in just under five hours. Long standing friends of Ann and Eddy, Margaret and Noel accommodated us in their spacious home in Rectory Lane, conveniently nearby. Their children David and Anneke and their partners were there and we ate all our meals together with them.
The funeral was in Kirton's Parish Church dedicated to St Mary and St Martin. Kirton means 'place with a church'. Mentioned as having its own priest in the Doomsday book, the church dates back to the seventh century, although the present building is mainly 14-15th century. Eddie served on the church council here over the years, and it was interesting to hear him talk about the maintenance challenges associated with its particular kind of construction materials, as you'd expect from a lifelong engineer.
It drizzled rain all day on Wednesday, and we walked in procession behind the hearse from house to church, just a quarter of a mile. The church was full to capacity, a hundred and fifty, family villagers and visitors. Clare gave a tribute, I read Psalm 121, and Helen the officiating local priest expounded it in exactly the same way I would have done, much to my pleasure. Anneke read Kahili Gibran's poem on death. Stephen, the Parish Lay Reader and long standing friend of Eddie's gave a moving tribute, which revealed the extent to which he was appreciated as a villager and church member.
He was laid to rest afterwards in a beautiful woven wicker coffin, in a grave just sixty yards south west of the church chancel, a lovely spot. Friends laid on an amazing funeral 'tea' afterwards in the adjacent church hall, which the majority stayed on for. The village drama group of which Eddie was a long standing member, got up on stage and sang a quirky comic song about garden gnomes, as a tribute to him, the sort of thing that he would have enjoyed. Altogether a fitting celebration of a life well lived.
In the evening, we went out for supper to a pub in a neighbouring village. Fish and chips and a pint of Adnam's Ale for me, but I was by this time, too tired to be on good form, and was glad to return early to peace and quiet in our guest room, and take the chance to email Rachel, Eddie's god-daughter, to tell her about the day, and share some photos I'd taken uniquely for her, so far away in Arizona.
Today, we made the return journey together by car. It rained all the way, quite heavily on the M4 section, and the spay from large lorries made it all feel hazardous, so we were glad to reach home safely before dark in under five hours, and then have a quiet evening catching up and reflecting.
The rain persisted, so bonfire night was rather a wash-out, and we didn't hear, let alone see that many fireworks punctuating the darkness.