Old and new horizons
This week there has been a funeral for each of the congregations. Both gentlemen were well over 85 and had led full and interesting lives. As far as I know, their paths had never crossed, but they would have found common ground thanks to their passionate and unswerving support for Dundee United Football Club!
To listen to family members reminisce about “Grandad” (or, as is happening because of the lockdown, to read their emails) is not simply a walk down Memory Lane. More often than not, I find that it develops into an exploration of what for me is completely uncharted territory.
So over the years my horizons have been expanded in many different directions. In order to get more of a feel for the individual’s story, I have done little bits of research into military matters – different regiments, the Korean War, for instance. I’ve read poetry and searched out quotations from and biographies of specific authors. I’ve searched for places on the world atlas and the UK road map.
I’ve learned about the hard manual work done on farms before mechanisation, and the conversion from horses to tractors. I’ve imagined dance halls and dance bands in both town and village.
Families were often large. Cousins were sometimes brought up like siblings. Children had to walk miles to school and, when older, didn’t mind walking miles to the nearest “hop”. There was love at first sight, which endured for decades, until death did indeed part a woman from her man. There was no money for a honeymoon, and holidays took the form of going to stay with grandparents.
The job market was completely different. A school leaver on Friday became an employed person on Monday; if you didn’t much care for the job, you could leave and find another one. Manufacturing provided a rich seam of opportunities, including the chance to climb up the ladder from the shop floor to management, without a university degree.
Some things though have remained exactly the same. Shock, sorrow, sadness because someone we love has died, whether they had “a good innings” or “died before their time”. Regret at things said, or left unsaid. Laughter through the tears when someone is brave enough to say she called a spade a shovel: “remember that time when she said …” Mouths watering as we recall Great Uncle Dave’s homegrown tomatoes or Grannie’s clootie dumpling.
And a realisation perhaps that parents did enable their children to have more opportunities than they had. That their disapproval for a particular course of action was born out of loving concern for a headstrong teenager. That they had mellowed by the time their grandchildren had come along. That they had passed on the best of themselves to the generations following in their footsteps.
I leave the last word to the apostle Paul: “There is nothing love cannot face;
there is no limit to its faith,
(from 1st Corinthians chapter 13, verse 7)