Farewell, Joyce

Thursday was the funeral of my great-aunt Joyce, and the reason for my visit to Pembrokeshire. She and her late husband, Peter, had lived in Solva for many years and we had gone there on holiday as small children, with many fond memories of her and the village. She had died, five years after her husband, at the age of 83. A good age in general terms, but she came from long-lived stock. Originally from the West Indies and born in Antigua, she had come to live in her husband’s native Pembrokeshire. She was my great-aunt on my mother’s side, so everyone there were either cousins of my mother, or my second-cousins, or her late husband’s relations.
Funerals are funny affairs. At their best, and this was one at its best, they are solemn, joyous, grateful and sad affairs. The service took place in the small church of St David’s at Whitchurch and her sons gave readings and spoke about her life.
Afterwards to the churchyard, where her ashes were laid with her husband’s. I remember listening to a blackbird singing during the committal and remembered how much Peter loved the blackbirds that came to his garden and how he would have enjoyed hearing their song again after five years of quiet and before his wife came to catch up on their five years apart.
On then, to the bunfight at the local Memorial Hall and to meet all those relations that one seems these days only to meet at such events.
Left in the early afternoon to drive back to Somerset in stunningly clear weather and the sight of the moon rising above the Severn estuary beyond the old Severn Bridge and with its yellow light shining on the water was one to remember. The sun may set, but the moon will rise to recall to mind its light in reflection and remembrance.

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