Today has see the first of two funerals I have to attend - both of friends of long time standing. This one was in the church in our village.
M was born only about 70 yards from the church and has lived and worked in the vicinity for the whole of her eighty odd years. Everyone knew and loved her.
For the past year she has been more or less housebound and for the last few weeks of her life her health had deteriorated. This does not make her death any less sad, but it was inevitable and - as they say around here - they gave her a jolly good send off.
M was of farming stock and the whole of the farming community turned out to say goodbye and to celebrate a life well-lived. Having been in a city for so many of my adult years, I had forgotten what village funerals are like. Town funerals tend to be rather impersonal, but there was nothing impersonal about this one. Everyone was there because they wished to be there - nobody felt under any obligation to be in attendance.
Everyone sang lustily and afterwards everyone hugged her son and her brother - there was a culpable feeling of loving support everywhere.
One little incident made us smile. There was so much parked traffic on the narrow lane where the church stands that the milk tanker, attempting to pass through to the farm at the bottom of the lane to collect today's milk, was held up until we came out of church. That would have made M smile.