Saturday, 21 August 2010

A surprise visit

I, or rather R, had a lovely surprise visit yesterday. Martin, one of R's friends from university, said that he was coming up to put some flowers on his grave and would I like to meet up for lunch. We agreed to meet at the burial field, so I told him the number of R's grave in case he arrived there first.

As it happens, he got there about 10 minutes before I did, and I found him wandering around the field looking a little lost. He had been expecting a consecutively-organised grid system, which is a long way from being the case.

I have walked up that hill so many times now that I had forgotten quite how difficult it can be to track down R's grave. These days I can find the little 4-inch diameter stone marker in the middle of a 3-acre grassy field almost on auto-pilot. Head up the hill towards the telegraph pole, stop walking uphill when level with the corner marker then head towards the bench until the distant hills are visible through the gap in the trees. Turn ninety degrees, and if the telegraph pole at the bottom of the hill is straight ahead, X marks the spot. Or rather no. 63.

I guess it is just something that needs a little practice, and I have had plenty!

We sat there on the grass beside R's grave, in the sunshine, for a couple of hours. It seemed totally natural - two old friends getting together to catch up with all the news since they last met. We chatted, had lots of hugs and cried a little. We reminisced about the wild days of our youth, and laughed at some of his and R's misadventures. Moose wandered around the field sniffing at all the revolting things that dogs find interesting. We talked about R and even to him a bit. The swallows dived and weaved overhead. We placed the flowers on his grave, after divesting them of their plastic wrapper, elastic bands and sachet of plant food as everything has to be biodegradeable. We admired the view. Martin apologised for not having come back before now. But that was OK, he had rung and e-mailed and there were good reasons for not doing so. And I knew he had not forgotten.
That's what matters - not forgetting.

In the end we didn't get to have lunch. It didn't seem very important. A quick coffee and he had to be off again.

What was important is that he remembers.


  1. Good stuff J, I'm glad for you and Martin.

  2. so true J. So true. Nothing brings a grin to my face faster these days than Cliff's friends telling stories about him :-)