Thanks for the memories
21 August 2021
It's Wednesday morning, 18th August
You won’t be surprised to hear that I’m not in the mood to flog you pans today. So this is just a minor update on Babette’s funeral arrangements, or perhaps I should say the lack of arrangement so far.
After some discussion with Jonathan, Jeanne and Josie we realised that we wanted, if possible, to bury Babette, rather than cremate her so that we could go and see her when we wanted to. If you’ll indulge me for a moment, I’ll take you back to my childhood of about 59 years ago. It was 1962, and we moved to Reigate because I’d won a choral scholarship, to Reigate St Marys Choir School, we’d previously been living in Cobham before this. But mum and dad were finding the size of the garden in Cobham a bit much and were happy to have a reason to move. So move to Reigate we did. I have very fond memories of the choir, practicing 4 afternoons a week, after school, for an hour and half each day. And as a result of this discipline I think our singing was to a pretty high standard and pretty varied in what we sang. And, in fact, the choir was usually invited to sing with St Paul's Cathedral Choir every Christmas to perform Handel’s Messiah, in St Paul's itself, so we must have been reasonable.
Anyway, the connection with this update is that, during my time there, it was our duty to sing at St Mary’s church, across the road from the school, twice every Sunday for the morning and evening services. As a result I became intimately acquainted with the church and the surrounding church yard, which, if you haven’t been there is a lovely peaceful place. So, when Babette was ill, in the months preceding her death, she and I often walked round the church yard as it's virtually opposite where we live and was an easy walk for her. So shortly after she died the idea began to germinate of actually burying her there, a place that meant a lot to both of us for a variety of reasons.
After a conversation with Kate Capper, at St Mary’s, it turned out however that the graveyard had no space for a conventional burial, but there may be a slim possibility of having her ashes interred there.
As it stands (Wednesday morning) it's looking rather unlikely that this will happen as they are very short of space, and that is really a bit of a blow, however unrealistic the hope was in the first place. But for the moment I’m just remaining quietly hopeful that we will prevail. If this doesn’t work then we’ll look at the alternatives.
Friday morning and I’m putting the finishing touches to this email
Well, yesterday (Thursday) I had a call back from Kate, who I believe looks after Pastoral Care at St Mary’s and I’m truly delighted to say she had asked the question and she must have put a good case because the answer came back, that yes, we could have Babette’s ashes interred there. I was so pleased that words cannot express quite how I’m feeling at this moment. So I’ll content myself by just saying “very pleased, delighted and grateful”, inadequate, but it’ll have to do.
I think Babette will be tickled pink to see that she’s to have an “Ashes Plot” in a place she loved right at the end of her life. I understand that this corner of the churchyard is where some of the youth of the area meet to drink, smoke and doubtless do all the other unspeakable things that many of us got up to when we were young. And, on hearing this I thought to myself, “well if there’s anyone who won’t mind one iota, it will be her”. She loved people, and would meet them wherever they were at that moment in their lives, no judgement, just an offering hand, if they wanted it. So she, I think, will enjoy the company! In any case she probably did a lot worse when she was young…
Thanks for the memories
Lastly, may I thank you if you have been one of the people who have left messages on the blog, or written us a card, or sent me an email that I haven’t managed to reply to. In this last week I have often burst into tears when reading many of them, to see how loved or appreciated she was.
Thank you, I found it very comforting to read them, as did my three “children”.
P.S. If you feel moved to reply to my email, may I ask you to do so here, partly and selfishly so I don’t feel obliged to reply, and I want everyone to see how she has been seen in her life.
For instance, for me she has been such a force for questioning the status quo that, if you have example you want to share of how she touched your life, I’d be delighted to hear it and suspect others will as well.