Hints of the wonderful summer just passed have continued to tinge our descent into autumn with further spells of warm and sunny weather in among the wetter, greyer autumnal days.
My almost daily walks into the local town seem to have new colours to offer every day. Although I loved my first full summer of retirement, especially as it was so marvellous weather-wise, I am now looking forward again to the difference autumn then winter brings.
The last couple of weeks have been relatively quiet as we have slipped into the cosiness of darker evenings in front of the wood-burner. However, I have managed to fit in another trip to London. Unfortunately, the prime reason for the visit was a funeral. In fact, I attended two funerals in two days – one in Gloucester, for a much-liked neighbour, and the other in Essex. These were the first I had attended for a couple of years and I had forgotten how emotionally draining they are even when not for the very closest friends or family.
As in other activities, retirement has brought a new flexibility in being able to properly celebrate the lives of those who have died. I was honoured to be invited and be able to attend both funerals and to hear recollections of both who had passed away.
The second funeral was for the father of my Best Man (BM). I had met him and his wife a few times including at a couple of key life events: my university graduation and my engagement to Long-Suffering Wife.
Through a few quirks of coincidence, my marriage proposal to LSW took place at BM’s parents’ house about 35 years ago during a small get together with them and some close friends. The details are a blur now. But I do recall, with some embarrassment then and now, how the best laid plans ended up with me handing LSW some flowers and my proposal of marriage in the upstairs bathroom/toilet (that’s where BM and I had hidden the flowers!). That wasn’t as romantic as planned but I also fondly recall us returning downstairs together with the flowers and beaming faces for the celebrations (highly justified as it has turned out!)
Attending these funerals has underlined for me the importance of doing at least some advance planning for these events so as to ensure that those likely to need to make the arrangements know one’s preferences. In general, I don’t much care what happens at my funeral; I’ll not be there. However, I am going to write down a few preferred dos and don’ts. For example, I’d like cremation, a sustainably produced coffin, minimal or no religion, nice music, and pictures on the order of service. I have some time, I hope, to set out my preferences but funerals (as if retirement hasn’t done so already) do bring home that life is absolutely finite; so I’m going to get on with writing down my guidance.
More positively, I have seen a few films recently. LSW and I saw The Wife (very well acted, especially by Glenn Close) and A Star Is Born (tremendous entertainment and potentially Oscar winning performances from Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper). Also, I saw First Man (excellent technical effects) with Eldest Son (ES) while I stayed in London with him.
Additionally, ES often treats me to off kilter, downloaded films when I stay with him and this time was no exception. Last month when I was in London, we saw The Endless (compellingly memorable, thought provoking and strange) and saw You Were Never Really Here (just strange) this time. I love cinema almost as much as ES so these times with him, when we see films outside of the mainstream, are a good joint pleasure to enhance my London trips.
Another positive has been my transformation of the fruits of our crab apple tree crab apple jelly. The jelly is a rather unusual texture – even more jelly-like than normal. But, I did make it on my own, I love the colour, and its tastes great. I’m pretty proud of it. Here is a picture of the apples on the tree and the resultant jars of jelly.