Today Auntie Ivy's funeral took place at Cardiff and Vale Crematorium outside Barry. I was relieved to have nothing else in my diary, as it meant I could go to the Funeral home down in the town to take some flowers and pay my last respects to her beforehand. The service was conducted by a Humanist celebrant, as Ivy never went to church and declared herself an atheist, even though both her husbands were churchgoers, and she brought her children up to attend church. Her son Alan, accompanied by four of his cousins Ros, Dianne, Lindsay and me, led mourners into the chapel, followed by the relatives of her second husband Bill and friends. About thirty of us altogether.
Ivy was an intelligent, capable, independent minded woman. Recounting her life story took about half the service time. It was both interesting and informative. It was delightful to hear about the way she kept young in spirit, mentally and physically active until her last few years. Always a ballroom dancing enthusiast, she started tap dancing classes in her late eighties. It was a salutary reminder to me to work at overcoming the problems I've had recently and keep up a regular regime of physical activity, and not be discouraged.
After the service, there was a reception with an amazing finger buffet held at Mr Villa's Fish and Chip restaurant and Oyster Bar. The style of the place is plain simple old fashioned sit down chippie with blue and white chequered tablecloths with salt 'n vinegar pots on the table. It's actually a sophisticated sea food restaurant, serving a wonderful variety of locally sourced fish and meat products from South Wales. It's a real foodie's delight and already popular with locals since it launched a year ago in its current form. I seem to recall there was always a seafront cafe in this locality, but now it's reaching out to a wider range of customers with its new offer.
The cousins ate together and talked for an hour, such a rarity to spend any time together nowadays. Then I took Dianne to Cardiff Central station for her train to London. With all but Auntie Mary, in her nineties, of our parents generation still alive, times of family gathering get fewer and further between. The older we get the less mobile we get, as well as living further and further apart from South Wales where most of us grew up. How spread out we are! A couple in London, a couple in Berkshire, a couple in South Wales, one in North Wales, one in the West of Scotland, one in Cambridge, one in Warwickshire, one in Somerset, one in Hong Kong, one in the South of France. It gives the notion of 'extended family' a meaning it didn't carry in quite the same way a century ago.
All this is thanks to life decisions made by our parents half a century or longer ago. So many different stories interacting. So much we don't know, as well as know about each other. Life is never long enough to find out everything about, and no family tree however expertly traced can do more than convey an outline. Only Ros still lives in the Rhymney Valley a mile or so from where half the cousins were born and bred. With Ivy's passing, the default territorial link of the extended Kimber clan to South Wales is just about broken.