A great loss
We had two funerals this year, the first been
Dylys's uncle. We had not seen much of him for many years
Graham: In 2019 Mum moved from her own home into a care home. Her Alzheimer’s had become more serious, and she was becoming progressively more disabled. She was in the care home for six months and then moved to a nursing home shortly before the first lockdown of the pandemic. She was two years in the nursing home before she died this year – on 26 April, the day before our wedding anniversary, which makes it easy to remember the date.
The funeral was in Solihull, where my sister Karen lives, and where the nursing home is located. We spent another day in Solihull, in which we took a little time clearing out the few items from Mum’s room in the nursing home. Then, in September, we had a family memorial day at Bradgate Park in Leicester, close to where Mum used to live, where we have had a memorial bronze oak leaf mounted, and where we scattered the ashes.
Graham: It has been mostly working from home this year, with odd days travelling to the office. As part of a small team, an intriguing experience this year was for a team interview of a candidate to join us – all remotely, an online event. The team agreed that Jack was a good candidate, he has now joined us, and we have had a few days together in the office.
Dylys: Besides spending two mornings a week doing voluntary work in the hospital, I was very pleased that “Open the Book” was able to restart the schools work that had come to an end with the pandemic – I am with them on Thursday mornings. I am usually doing some church cleaning each week, and I manage the rentals for our church.
Graham: I don’t get much free time at home, although with working from home I spend most of my time in the house. I have managed to mow the lawns over the summer months, and to trim the bushes in the autumn (after the growing season); but I have not been able to treat the fences or the shed. Hence we are seriously thinking about moving to a “retirement” home.
We had opportunity to meet a representative from a McCarthy Stone retirement home development that is being built very close to where we live. On top of buying an apartment, it comes with a huge monthly service charge. We did manage to view an apartment for sale in a more established retirement development – interesting, but it was really too small for us. Now we are thinking more about apartments that are not specifically targeted at retired people, but we have not viewed any at the time of writing this letter.
It turned out to be an expensive year. We booked two regular holidays: in May we spent a week in Wolsingham, County Durham, and we had a good time exploring the Wear Valley – new territory for us. We were able to spend an afternoon with one of Dylys's cousins, who lives in St John's Chapel. Then we spent the first week of October in Hayle (near St Ives, Cornwall). On the whole, the weather was good for each of these weeks, and we much appreciated them.
|Lovely sunshine near Thornley, County Durham|
|Dylys on Porthkidney Beach near Hayle|
Our church was going to have the first church weekend away for several years … in 2020. It was postponed twice due to the pandemic, and we finally went away to Cloverley Hall in June. After a couple of years of lockdowns (no church services) and cautious meeting together again in the church building (lots of Covid rules), the weekend away was a welcome opportunity to see the church fellowship properly.
Then my sister Karen announced that, as she was having a milestone birthday this year, she would like a family weekend away in Symonds Yat. She booked a large house, and four generations spent the weekend together (Dad and Val, down to great niece Rosie). We enjoyed good weather, good walks around the River Wye, and lots of food! So the two extra breaks made it a much more expensive year for what we would consider to be holiday expenditure.
We have been meeting in the building on Sunday mornings throughout the year. Most Sundays, the two of us are sitting behind computers and the sound desk – Graham records the service, whilst Dylys manages the display of words whilst the congregation sings along with the worship group, and the playing of Youtube videos. We have put out appeals for somebody to help with the sound desk, but with no response as yet, so Graham has to manage this as well.
We have not tried to reinstate the Sunday evening meetings, perhaps because we still do not have a great attendance each Sunday morning. Graham also sets up two Zoom meetings each week: the Sunday afternoon prayer meeting, and the Wednesday evening cell group – we are disappointed that so few people attend these, but maybe with Graham spending so much of each day in front of a computer, the Zoom meetings feel a much more natural environment for him than they do for most people in the church. Our pastor runs a daytime Bible study during the week, in which we are not able to take part.