I suppose, given what I am going to write is fairly personal, I wouldn’t be put out (not that I am going to find out) if friends who follow my blogs give this one a miss. But given that my reason for blogging is to reflect on things going on in the world that have significance for me and others, then what I write now qualifies.
Friday lunchtime, I attended a funeral. As I get older, I find I am attending funerals more frequently.The person, whose funeral it was, was an elderly neighbor who I have known for many years. We weren’t close but I remember her as a good neighbor and, while we did not have a great deal to do with each other, we did exchange greetings when we met and the odd word or two. It was a dignified service attended by mostly the elderly, followed by a wake, where we could eat and chat. Like most funerals I attend, I wanted to pay my respects to the deceased and pass on my condolences and reminiscences with her family. In the evening, I attended a fund raising quiz for the night shelter I run and did so with members of my family, including my son, organized by one of our volunteers. It was a fun evening and well attended, and I was able to chat to a number of people I knew. The biggest gripe was my team came last!
Saturday was the long anticipated day when my 18 year old son left home in order to start life studying away at University (Aston). Preparations over, little chance now to impart last minute nuggets of wisdom. Feelings were mixed. On one hand, life will never be the same without our one and only son in the house, who we will miss, but on the other, the time is ripe for him to write the next chapter in his life and, on balance, it is a good thing he does so without his parents around to cramp his style or prevent him doing the things it might be better he did without his parents to defer or refer to. Having spoken to friends who have done similar, I understand taking one’s child to university is one of the boxes parents often tick as part of their child’s rite of passage, but for me it was a first time surreal experience, witnessing many other children with their parents, also taking luggage to their new accommodation in the process. We had an interesting brief explore of the accommodation, campus and the local city (the Bullring is interesting), meeting a few of the students and their parents in the process. Then a leisurely, reflective three hour journey back home (I had scampi and chips in the Little Chef on the way), minus a son, hoping that he will be ok.
Sunday (today) was the Southend Community in Harmony Event (the thirteenth). It is an event I helped to start and one which I coordinated for several years. This year, I was not involved in the organizing, although keen to do my bit supporting what went on. I was, however, involved in setting up a stall for my own church, and supporting some of the other stalls. While helping as and when needed, there was enough help around me for me to network. The highlight was meeting friends from the past and catching up. Really pleased my own stalls (Providence Baptist and Street Spirit) engaged well. It was a happy occasion and while I could see what worked well and what didn’t, I did feel a sense of gratitude and pride that what we set out to do all those years ago, by bringing together disparate members of the community, giving opportunities for families to have a great day out without spending money, break down barriers and build community spirit, is still being achieved. After visiting church, a slightly strange end to a tiring but exhilarating weekend was taking my wife to visit a sick friend.
All in all an interesting two days just gone, and life goes on, and much still to do, but now with only me and Mrs B in the house!