Monday, 10 July 2017

Ministry in a familiar place

This morning, we rose later than usual. I had preparations for today's funeral to complete, and some photocopies of the order of service to get done. Conveniently, there's a well equipped print shop just a few doors down from the apartment block. It's often busy, but on this occasion, I walked in and had the job done within a couple of minutes, quicker and cheaper than I could have done it in the chaplain's office if there'd been a copier or a printer to use for this purpose. That was a relief as it spared me time queuing, or delivering and collecting later.

Then I went with Clare to the beach for her daily swim, and on the return trip we did some food shopping at Mercadona, prior to lunch and an siesta, before driving to Fuengirola for the funeral. I dropped Clare off in Los Boliches, so that she could visit the small 'El Corte Ingles', to look for a few items of summer clothing she'd not been able to find in the giant store in Malaga city centre.

There were about eighty people present for the service. As ever there were problems with the chapel sound system only being able to play standard CDs, and burned CDs being the the wrong format, but one of the mourners brought an all-format player from home which worked, although it was not something I could control and conduct the service smoothly, so a member of the family helped out with this.

These days it's quite normal to have a photo of the deceased on the coffin. On this occasion, the one produced was somewhat unusual, a large A3 print of a picture taken when the man had landed a small part in a movie being made while he was working as a football coach in Alexandria, Egypt.  It was a part of the story of his life which I hadn't heard about until the photo was produced before the service, and the problem was how to display it without a frame. It ended up being Blu-tacked to the catafalque. The family would have known the story. I hope they told people about it afterwards at the wake.

As I had to collect Clare from Los Boliches, I declined the invitation to go back to Puebla Blanca to join them for a drink. Two branches of family, one from Bristol, the other from Tyneside were being united by this bereavement, some meeting again for the first time in decades. Having given them of my best, it was better to let them continue without me. On my way out several people stopped me to express their appreciation for the service. There was nothing more to be said.

Clare's shopping mission was fruitful, and she was pleased with her several purchases. I missed the entrance to the A7 autovia, leaving Los Boliches, so we followed the N340 all the way along the coast back to Malaga. The traffic wasn't too heavy, and it was relaxing to cruise through familiar places, passed through during the eight months of 2013-14 spent on locum duty for the Costa del Sol East Chaplaincy and remember good times past.

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