Friday, 28 September 2007

Away day

The AA (Automobile Association) web site kindly provided me with the route down to St. Alban’s, avoiding motorways, the itinery saying it was a distance of 112.3 miles which would take 2 hours and forty-five minutes. Somewhat optimistic!

The route down took me via a wonderful new A road, virtually clear of traffic after a slight hold-up at road works at Duxford and the Imperial War Museum, and then onto an horrendous B road that was single-track with Passing Places! And I met a bus!

Still, allowing for the rain and slow traffic through the centre of St. Alban’s, I made it to the West Herts Crematorium in just over 3 hours.

The return journey was worse.

With the M25 solid from accidents and road works, and not wanting to try and find my way back along the narrow B road, I took a route through Hitchin, Welwyn Garden City and Hertford, and then onto the A10 for Cambridge. The traffic was bad, and it took me an hour to reach Hertford. Eventually reaching the A10 I headed north and turned off for Duxford. I met the queue for the road works about half a mile along the road, and it was still some 10 miles to Duxford itself! I turned round and continued up the A10. This would lead me to the M11 and I could go up that and join the A14 to bring me eastwards round Cambridge, back to Bury St. Edmunds and thence to Bungay and home.

I joined the M11 to find it crawling, and so I came off at the next junction that led me into Cambridge itself. The Ring Road is badly signed, and after a circular tour of the centre and past the Fitzwilliam Museum, I finally found a sign for Newmarket. It took me over an hour to negotiate the city.

I finally got home after four and a half hours on the road.

As to the funeral service itself – it was Humanist, and although it was very well taken, it has left me with various questions. My cousin told me that as my aunt was not religious they thought this was the best service to have, and I quite agree. Any funeral has to keep integrity with the person being celebrated, but why then did we listen to a choral recording of the hymn “The King of love my shepherd is,” and say the Lord’s Prayer together? Also, the officiant kept emphasising that my aunt would live on in our lives through our memories that would be with us forever. Actually, they would be with us for the length of our lives, and then, in the Humanist view, on our death they would vanish. This then leaves the grieving relatives with a burden to carry, that it is their responsibility to keep the memories alive so that the person “lives on”. On their death there could be a sense of guilt that their relative will now be forgotten and be “out of mind”.

The Christian faith takes away this sense of responsibility. The person lives on through the gift of eternal life granted by God through Jesus. And it’s into that care and love that we commend them. As the curtains drew together today, we were told once again to keep my aunt alive through our memories of her, and our sharing of those memories.

Well taken, and no doubt absolutely right for many people, but for me it was lacking hope. But then hope is a gift of the Christian faith, and if you are not a believing Christian, then perhaps the hope is not missed.

Aunt Kathleen on her wedding day with her lovely smile

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