It's been a time for family today. Time to meet up with aunts and uncles and cousins. Time to look back, and time to catch up. Time to remember, time to reminisce. We talked about the cottage in the country where my grandparents lived, and their parents before them. The cottage where I used to spend the whole of the school summer holiday. The outside lavvy up the yard, which the men in a lorry attended to every week. The double bed I shared with my Aunt who is only five years older than me and was more like a sister. The pantry where my grandma stored all her home made delicious cakes and pastries, and I used to steal the lemon curd tarts. The fields around the house where I roamed. I remember the ditch I fell into as I tried to jump over it. Grandma was not cross, she took my wet clothes off and wrapped me in a big towel and sat me down on the rug in front of the fire.
After my grandparents died my Aunty lived in the cottage with her husband and they had three children. They had a bathroom put in so they didn't have to go up the yard any more. It was a struggle to fit everybody in the tiny cottage with two bedrooms, but they managed. I remember the big open fire in the living room, boy was it roasting in there.
The garden was huge and Uncle spent hours digging and planting and building a shed, and growing veg. The garden was his pride and joy. Every Christmas most of the family went back there. When Grandma was alive it was always full of visitors, friends and relations. The same when Aunty took over. It was the sort of place you always wanted to go back to. It was the hub, the base, the home of our family.
Today I went to Uncle's funeral. A very simple funeral, he never liked fuss. His son and his grandson both read a eulogy. His daughter sang a song, she has a beautiful singing voice. We waved him goodbye to Freddie Mercury singing, Don't stop me now. I didn't know he liked Freddie Mercury.
That cottage in the country will always be our family home, but the time will come when it will be handed over to someone new. For the last few years Uncle always did the driving because Aunty's eyesight is failing. He took Aunty to the shops, to appointments, to visit friends, and to visit their children who have grown up and flown the nest. There are no shops nearby, only a handful of houses. There are no buses, and taxis are too expensive, so it's looking like Aunty won't be able to live there any more. I cannot imagine her living anywhere else, she was born and brought up there, she has lived there all her life. It will be strange not going back to visit ever again.
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