In the morning my mother and I went to our local cemetery to put flowers on the graves of my father and grandparents. Usually it’s a real chore, because of the bad weather conditions. This year, however, it was quite pleasant. Walking up and down the cemetery, hauling the big chrysanthemum plants didn’t seem as difficult as the previous years. Simply because it was warm, sunny and the place was really ‘alive’, with many people doing the same thing.
The cemetery on a sunny November morning.
We ran into several friends, some of which we hadn’t seen for many months or years: a former colleague of mine, who used to be one of my father’s closest friends and my former next door neighbour, the 90 year old gentleman who moved out of the apartment hardly six weeks after my move and who now lives in a service flat for senior citizens in a nearby town. It was lovely seeing them again and catching up on the latest news.
We spent more than an hour at the cemetery, arranging the flowers, but mostly chatting to people. I could tell that my mother really enjoyed it. And so did I …After taking care of the flowers we went to a casual restaurant for quick lunch of pizza and Saltimbocca. And then it was time to go home and prepare the house for my cousins’ arrival.
They are the children of my mother’s only brother. There are five of them. One of them couldn’t make it though as she has had a very ugly accident doing the ‘déscente de la Lesse’ a few weeks ago, the Lesse being a River in the Ardennes. Paddling down-river takes you along some rocky patches with small rapids. Although it isn’t very dangerous – nothing to do with wild water rafting - my cousin managed to bump her head against one of the rocks and badly injured her face. Doctors are waiting for the wound to heal, but she may need plastic surgery in the spring. We are all very concerned about the outcome as she has always been considered as the ‘Barbie doll’ of the family. We are afraid that the scar, if there is one (we hope not) may have an everlasting impact on her morale. Which might drive her into a depression.
Her brothers and sisters with their spouses arrived around 3 p.m. and half an hour later my mother’s cousin and her daughter dropped in. We (eleven people in total) had a merry time, sitting around my mother’s dining room table, sipping coffee and eating cakes. There was a ‘flan Brésilienne’ (egg custard in a nice crust covered in whipped cream and grilled and shredded nuts), an autumn fruit tart (puff pastry, with a thin layer of custard cream, with cherries, prunes, pears and apples) and a raspberry clafouti.
The party, before the last two guests arrived!
They only stayed till four thirty because they had come to visit the cemetery too. By then it was raining and it was getting quite dark. My mother and I stayed at home, did the washing up and put everything in its right place again. Living on her own, my mother isn’t used to having so many people in the house at once. And it did take some advance planning and arranging to fit everybody in. But it was certainly worth the effort, as my cousins and I don’t see each other as much as we would like to.
P.S. The ‘Souls’ in the title refer to today’s holiday ‘All Souls’ Day’. It isn’t an official holiday in Belgium, but I’ve taken the rest of the week off.