An early start to get to the Ampolla golf club house for this Sunday's first Eucharist, on a bright cool morning. The roads were quiet, and this time I didn't miss my hard to identify turn-off point. During the service, we gave thanks for Robert and Gerda's 65th wedding anniversary, and I gave them a special nuptial blessing at the end of the service. I've been invited to their party at the club house this Tuesday morning. There were sixteen of us again, and this time, we finished early enough for me to be able to join the congregation for a coffee on the terrace before driving back to Vinaros for the second service with the same number in the congregation.
Celebrating with Robert and Gerda reminds me that our golden wedding anniversary party is now only three weeks away. I remember attending my Kimber grandparents' golden wedding anniversary party when I was eleven, wearing my new Pengam Grammar School uniform for the first time at a family do. My Harris grandparents on my mother's side didn't have such a party that I recall, but their photo appeared in the local newspaper in Burton on Trent, where they lived until illness and infirmity brought them down to live out the rest of their days with us in South Wales, cared for by my mother in our mining valleys terraced house.
Grandma Harris had a not too serious stroke, but it meant she was no longer able to look after my grandfather. He'd lost a leg through an uncontrolled diabetes infection. She lived only a few weeks after the move. I suspect the stress of having to give up her home and her independence was too much for her. He lived a couple of years longer bed-ridden in our front room. It's no wonder that my mother also had a stroke several years after her father died. Her life was also made very stressful by the burden of caring for the infirm, and no doubt diet, and the fact that the men in the household were smokers also played its part.
Having said that, my only grandparent to survive into his nineties living independently at home, was Grandpa Kimber, who not only smoked a pipe and cigars for much of his life, but even grew his own tobacco in his back-yard greenhouse. Does anyone fully understand the interplay of nature versus nurture, constitution versus environment, in determining our length of days?
Clare was up in Kenilworth this weekend, and Friday night went with the family to see the Royal Shakespeare Company's new production of 'Midsummer Night's Dream' in Stratford. She was full of praise for it when we talked on Skype after her return. Missing events of this kind is the price I have to pay for being here, unfortunately.