Weddings, a multitude of aunts and uncles coupled with the fact that my friends and I are approaching the average age of marriage in the UK has meant that I've attended a fair few weddings in my short life so far. I love weddings, for me they're an opportunity to meet new friends (and relatives), bring my pretty black sense of humour into play and generally enjoy myself. I'd never been to a funeral before attending my Grandmother's this year, and to my surprise it turned out that I approached it in a remarkably similar fashion to a wedding.
The drive down to the New Forest from Wales was reminiscent of family holidays when we used to all cram into the car, argue with each other, laugh at stupid jokes and generally do anything possible to pass the time. Obviously we had all grown considerably since those days and it was rather lucky that my brother was travelling from a different direction, it would have been a bit of a squeeze to fit us all in. The New Forest is a large protected area of Southern England which is kept mainly as heathland and woodland, with a few villages and towns scattered in between. The sun was shining bright on a warm summers day, ponies and donkeys wandered around at will and the sound of the wind gently blowing through the trees made me smile. As ferociously Welsh as I am, a part of me will always be tremendously proud of the area where both my parents grew up and where we spent a lot of time when we were younger. My parents, brother and sisters obviously felt the same, childhood memories from us all drifted back at an endless rate. Things such as "Hey, remember when you fell over in that giant puddle just over there
" or "That's where we ran through the long grass trying to find adders after being told to watch out for them
" were blurted out as we travelled towards the church.
We were the first to arrive at the church, still giggling and in high spirits from the trip. My mother disguised her grief tremendously well, helped in no small way by the fact that I'd dyed my hair a deep blue colour and my brother had grown a huge beard since she'd last seen us - which she found most amusing. More of the family turned up, some we had met before, most we hadn't. Some people didn't approve of our obvious enjoyment of a day out so we toned down our laughs to broad grins and the occasional giggle, this was further compounded when an aunt complimented by blue hair, I replied by saying that I'd done it specially for the funeral - she wasn't impressed. We all managed to keep it down until a surprise package turned up in the form of my grandmothers elderly sister, whose wicked sense of humour had us almost crying as we struggled to contain out laughter - we'd finally discovered where we all got it from.
Once inside, the service went as expected and respects were paid by everyone. It was a lovely occasion. The giggle loop
rose its head on occasions, namely whenever I caught the eye of one of my sisters. My sisters and I had become disillusioned with the church from an early age, whilst all the singing and praying meant more to my brother - who remained a solemn as he could throughout. By the time the coffin had been lowered into the ground, we'd dragged a few more uncles and aunts into giggling fits and more than a few people were smiling as my grandmothers sister continued with hilarious comments in her well spoken london accent. Bear in mind I'd only met her once when I was about seven or eight, she asked me "So, what would you be typically doing on a Friday?
", my reply was a facetious "Oh, I'd probably just be getting out of bed
" (it was 4pm), she smiled a lovely old lady smile and said "And I don't suppose it'd be your own bed, would it?
" everyone laughed again, I just grinned back - not bold enough to have a pop back at her.
A few drinks and some biscuits later, we all split up again, I headed back to Wales with my sisters while my parents remained in the New Forest and my brother jetted off to wherever the hell he had to be at that time. Once I was back in Cardiff, I ran up to my friends house to catch the tail end of a rugby match - "Where have you been?
" I was asked immediately on arrival "I've just been to my Nans funeral in England
", "Oh, I'm sorry
" my friend responded, "Don't be sorry, I had a great time - now pass me a beer