I must confess I did not fancy spending the day on my own, wallowing in thoughts of why Greg was no longer here with me and why we couldn't have celebrated the day with a party or a nice holiday or whatever. Then about a month ago, Kay suggested we take a weekend break to visit Greg's home town and visit his resting place and so that it what we did this weekend.
Greg grew up in a beautiful market town in the Midlands steeped in history and still frequented by many tourists. When he was a teenager, he yearned so much to get away from this quiet country town where not much happened and so was never more delighted when he got a job first in Germany and then back here at the BBC newsroom in London. But in later life, he began to appreciate the quiet, lazy, beautiful elegance of his home town and even considered moving back there. It therefore seemed fitting when he died to scatter his ashes there, so he could return to his roots.
It struck me this weekend, as Kay and I stayed in a beautiful Georgian hotel and wandered around the town with the many other tourists, how little I had appreciated the town myself. I kept seeing historic buildings and other things that I had barely noticed before. We had visited it so often to see his mother, sister and friends, but hardly spent any time wandering around the town, as the main purpose of the visit was to see people. This time it was to see places.... the houses Greg grew up in, his school, his younger life. It was partly to show Kay, as she was too young to remember some of it. I wanted to her to see it and remember it, but also partly to immerse myself and be close to Greg.
His ashes were scattered in the Meadows- a huge open space comprising many fields right in the heart of the town. People walk their dogs there or picnic there and it is literally over a footbridge by the town centre.
From where his ashes are scattered you can still see the town's famous towers and steeples, yet be at peace near a river and in the open countryside which extends beyond. We visited the tree beneath where he lies and spent a good twenty minutes telling him all our news - about Kay's graduation, her medical career, her boyfriend, my operation, even about the referendum result (as a journalist this would have been the first thing he wanted to know about!). I also wished him a happy ruby wedding anniversary.
Of course the occasion reduced us
good while clinging on to each other, much to the concern of passing dog-walkers some twenty yards away or more, but somehow it was cathartic, as I have found it hard to cry all those years following his death. The weather held out until we had moved on back to the town centre and then it bucketed down with rain. I am not sure whether they were climatic tears of joy or sorrow. But whatever they were, it was after all a very pleasant weekend and just what we needed.