It’s been a week of two halves; festival & friends and funeral & family. So it felt right to do two blogs covering both… this one is the more sentimental one.
On Wednesday we said goodbye to my Uncle Dave. He was a terrific man. I have so many phenomenal but daft memories of him. I tried to get them into words so that I could speak at his service but for once – despite the whole purpose of my career – I just couldn’t make the words work. But fortunately my aunt (his sister) did with a phenomenal tribute read out by the celebrant. She captured Dave to a tee and despite the pain and the tears there was also a few smiles and laughs about this incredible man.
It was a tough day for me – as you’d expect. Seeing the photo of him on the service sheet with his dog ‘Mutt’ who he used to take to work with him every day as station manager at Leicester station made me smile as clearly I must have I inherited that from him as I am almost always accompanied by my border collie Rex.
Given Dave’s ‘train’ career there was a super reading called the Train of Life which was really quite something – especially the line at the end which read ‘thank you for being one of the passengers on Dave’s train’ which just totally set me off.
Sat on the family row at the front it was only after the service finished that I realised how many people had turned up – his rail friends, his dog walker friends, his neighbours, carers and so many more and I can honestly say I felt honoured to have naturally been on his train joined by all these wonderful people.
But funerals send you into thought over drive. I have a super family – from both sides of my parents – in Leicestershire, Rutland and Essex and of course the folks in Turkey but they’re not close geographically and all have their own lives and family. Then I think about my friends and it’s the same and I started to wonder where do I actually fit? Where is my place?
I stayed at the wake for a couple of hours but all in all honesty I just wanted to get back to Rex and my sister – I felt very isolated. And to stop myself crying on the way home I just threw my favourite playlist on and blasted it in the car in a way I’ve not done for a while. And thanks to Lady Gaga (don’t ask!) something started to change.
The following day I met with my Aunt and we had six or so great hours catching up over cider, Guinness, wine and food – it was much needed and I shared with her how I was feeling which of course she understood.
I left early yesterday for the two and a half hour drive home and in the most unexpected of places – the south side of the Dartford Tunnel – I realised where my place is and how I fit in. My place is in London. It has been since the day I moved here. I still remember leaving my house in Shropshire to make the drive down to what has become my home and looking at the horizon and just thinking ‘London – that’s home’ and whilst many have moved away I know I never will. When I hit ‘South of the River’ I actually shouted out ‘yay we’re home’ and when I walked through the door of my house and Rex went mad with excitement I joined in with him – I’ve never been so happy to walk through my front door.
And as to how I fit? Well ok – apart from my dog I may not have any immediate family living with me but I do have a great family who I can call on at any time for any reason. I also have a wonderful group of friends who just make my life complete – who I call on when I need them and who call on me when they need me – wherever they are in the world. My other blog today talks to my annual festival with friends – a ritual I hope continues until we’re moving around in our zimmer frames. I have friends I haven’t spoken to for a while (most recently meeting up with my friend Andrea who I haven’t seen for over 20 years!) but it always feels like yesterday. My best mate who just picks up the phone to tell me some daft anecdote of the day and vice versa. The variety of what’s app groups from Love Island and old work friends to my wine student pals. Friends who live around the corner who I spend time with every week and all the others who I may just chat to on Facebook.
So… I do have a place, I do fit and as I sat back with a glass of wine in hand I actually thought – ‘Do you know what girl? You’re bloody lucky.’