Wednesday, January 9, 2013
A village farewell.
How does the news spread so quickly ? The old widow in the house at the crossroads dies on Sunday night. Four years after her husband. So often the case. By Tuesday afternoon the roads around the village hall solid with parked cars. Family, friends, neighbours, shopkeepers, acquaintances. The hearse , when it arrives half an hour late, a jaunty , luminous , duo-tone affair in silver and green. She's asked for a civil ceremony. The mayor in his blazer, beige crimplene trousers and pork pie hat officiating. The coffin placed on the black crepe decorated stage ; DJ Florians disco ball from the Christmas festivities dangling above. The smell of hyacinths.
Everyone asked to say a few words. Some, the older farmers and their wives, more garrulous than others. Some much more so. ' The font ' recites, in French, a brief Mary Oliver poem
Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift
Afterwards two glasses of wine in the village hall. The mayor wanders up and says '' that's been thirsty work ". Cue for an invitation to the Rickety Old Farmhouse . There in the upstairs hallway , the mayor and his wife, forty or so villagers, the Bay grandchildren, the old farmer in his jeans and plaid shirt , a Yorkie ; a champagne toast to ' absent friends '. The old farmer turns to me and says ' she was always kind ' . The timelessness of village life. Not such a bad way to go. More ' au revoir ' than ' adieu ' .