stepping stones of truth

A journey along the path of life - the stones can be rough, smooth or even wobbly!

Monday, August 28, 2006


The words about the Japanese gateway at Kew, got me thinking about gateways in general – and also about thresholds and liminal spaces (yes there will definitely be a post about that – its germinating!)

A few months ago now, my Life Long Friend from way back in Library School (hereinafter known as the LLF) came down to visit us in Dorset, with a special mission. It was to scatter the ashes of Adam, her late husband.

Adam had been fighting lung cancer for over a year – and as she said at his funeral – he was a brave and patient man. But he had also been a “slave to the weed” for over forty years. The LLF is a wonderful person too, and facilitated at the funeral herself. She and Adam had no religious beliefs, so she wrote and organized it all. I was pleased to be asked to read a poem. As she said afterwards, it went as well as anything like that can. And the food at the pub on the banks of the River Thames was scrummy!

Adam had lived with us in Dorset for a time many years ago, while they were seeing if it was financially viable to make the move away from London. Sadly it wasn’t, but I know Adam enjoyed his time with us, and it seemed right that when his family wanted somewhere to come and feel close to him (he has no other memorial) that it was in our village.

So, the LLF did all the organizing, and bought in a lovely buffet lunch from M& S and Waitrose (top supermarket food providers) and alcohol. All I had to do was to make sure we had enough chairs, plates, glasses, etc. Adam’s daughters, sister, mother-in-law and their partners came and we had a thoroughly enjoyable wake. It was several months after the funeral, and so everyone was feeling more positive and relaxed.

The LLF had bought some lovely roses, and everyone selected a bloom and we walked across to our Millennium village green. His ashes were scattered discretely, and his family went one by one and placed their flower. I am not one for worrying about mortal remains (I couldn’t even tell you where my parents ashes lie) To me its just like the husk that remains, nothing more. So I was surprised at how comforted I felt that “he” was nearby.
The river carried on flowing, and the birds carried on singing. And life carries on.

We went back to the Old School, and the buffet looked and tasted delightful. The conversation hummed, and laughter filled the house - just like it used to when Adam was here.

The LLF kindly offered a donation to the next project or need of the Millennium Green, and the Board of Trustees were replacing a gate to Harry’s Wood, so she paid for that in its entirety. It seemed very fitting – a gateway, a portal.

The gate is completed and used often every day, but we have yet to organize a plaque. The LLF wants just a simple one, with his name and dates on, in commemoration. But I always think of her simple words by the river bank “ Adam – husband, father, brother, son, and friend”


At 2:09 am, Blogger Val said...

Val, this is such an inspiring post, and what a tribute to you that Adam's partner and family felt your village was a fitting place for him to be remembered. His stay there was obviously one that was important in his life.

The gate is a lovely touch too, and it looks very inviting - I'd love to go for a walk in those woods.

At 8:50 am, Blogger Val said...

The woods have snowdrops in spring, and the river runs along the edge of them - just to the immediate left of the gate. Hmm, now that's a thought for another post, Val.

At 1:46 pm, Blogger Jeanette said...

HI Val
What a lovely peaceful way to say goodbye with the river flowing the birds singing and a gateway to walk through .
if your wondering were i come from i came via Val's site ill shall return to read more

At 12:40 pm, Blogger Potato Print said...

Good morning from Long Island, Val. I found your blog via kerrdelune. This particular post is quite moving, full of all the sobering finality that death brings into one's life. It is also full of life and love, as if you all kept part of him with you before he left.

The rest of the blog is just impossibly beautiful. All of the green and the water. You take marvelous photos. I woke up feeling crabby and stressed about work, but 20 minutes on your blog have tamed the beast.

At 8:53 am, Blogger Tanya said...

What a beautiful tribute, and a great way to remember such a good friend.

I'm glad you liked the pictures of beaches and fires and all the rest. I lived in England for a few years and I know how different the beaches are over there compared to here. And, despite what most Australians in England say, I love English beaches (it's just that the weather doesn't usually live up to my Aussie beach-going expectations).

I was about 100 metres from the fires - close when I think about it now. But the wind was blowing away from me and I was ready to drive away at a moments notice. Cane burning is actually unnecessary these days (it used to be done because harvesters couldn't cope with all the green foliage, but now they can), as are many farming practices in the Burdekin - but try telling the farmers that...

Looking forward to "seeing" you again :)

At 12:55 am, Blogger Lee-ann said...

what a lovely way to say goodbye.
Thank you for sharing it with us.

You must be loved by many.



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