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Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Paying respects

Last week while I was at home during the day on my own, I idled away some of my time watching a film on TV while our contractors got on with renovating our hallway and dining area.  Little did I realise how emotional this film would get me, or that it would lead to me going to Islington & St Pancras Cemetary in North London yesterday. The film title isn't really important, or even the story.  What is, though, is that it reminded me once again how much I miss Dad. 

Usually I jump in the car and head down the A10 and around the North Circular, give or take.  And it takes just over an hour on a good day.  But with my weight increasing with each loaf of bread and cake I bake, I thought it would be better to let the train take the strain and walk the rest. This time it took three trains to make the same journey. Hertford North to Finsbury Park and Finsbury Park to Kings Cross using the overground network and then the tube to East Finchley and 25 minute walk from there.

Arriving at Dad & Mum's grave, I was pleased to see that their stone had been put back.  It had been over a year since we laid Dad to rest and it wasn't nice laying flowers on the soil where they had been buried while the memorial stone lay five feet away.

I then made my way to my brother George's grave about fifteen feet away.  A day does not go by where I don't look at his photo next to our television set and think about about him and how tragic it was that he left us at the young age of 57.  Writing this I am just half a dozen years away from his age, which really puts it into persepective.

George's grave and memorial stone is also a reminder to the tragedy that was my own father's childhood.  My grandfather purchased the grave for three people when my Dad was just a child.  This was because his wife, my Dad's mother and my grandmother, passed away when my Dad was just 8 years old.  Married on Christmas Day, my grandfather lived for another 21 years with this festive day weighing heavy on his heart. Adding insult to injury, the family could not afford a memorial stone when either of them passed away.

How I found my grandfather's grave
Standing over Dad's grave, I remembered how he used to tell me his grandfather's grave was at the other end of Randall's Path. I'd seen it over 20 years ago but couldn't find it the last time I'd looked.  But something told me to try again from this end of the path. 

I recalled the headstone was like a bible and checked the first one I came across without success.  However, when I came across the second, I knew that this was the one.  However it was covered with moss with weeds. After a little effort I was able to scrap some of the moss off to confirm my gut feeling. My great grandfather George White.

With the moss cleared, I was able to make out the soft lead letters.  And again I was reminded of the tragedies that the previous generation of Whites had endured. 

Next to my great grandfather's name were the names of his two wives who passed away less than 3 years apart.  My grandfather's mother passed away a few years before his father and step mother within a year of him. She had inherited his estate which had included the dairy business and several houses.  However she took her own life before the estate was distributed.
As sad as this is, the greatest tragedy was for the two generations of grandchildren who never had the chance to know their grandfathers.  My father lost his grandfather when he was four.  And my brothers were 4 years, 2 years and one year old respectively when my grandfather passed.  As for me, I hadn't even been born.

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