1 September 2021 |

In his sermon on 22nd August Martin talked of the importance for each person to be remembered especially after death. He told us that Jews regularly remember and pray for those for example who died in the holocaust. Names unknown to them but nevertheless of value and revived in the process or remembrance. That triggered a number of thought pathways.

I wonder how many other people are fascinated by graveyards and the words on headstones, the names, the dates. In the churchyard of St Mary’s Church, Reigate is one for Dorothea who was born the same day as my mother in law, Eirlys Pipe. Whenever I passed it I mused over how her life was different from that of Eirlys who grew up in Wales in Pontardulais with 2 older brothers. One died in his early twenties from appendicitis missed by a drunken doctor. He had played cricket for Glamorgan and was idolised by his younger sister. She in turn was a keen sportswoman playing tennis and hockey for her alma mater Swansea University and she was very proud of that. Eirlys’ life was affected by her brother’s untimely death. Her father had been a keen musician and he too influenced her life. Her husband Cyril was a good pianist and played the church organ which in turn no doubt influenced his grandson David at least genetically. What of Dorothea? I wonder what happened in her life and who were the influential people for her.

Another headstone describes a man who for many years lived in the Earlswood Asylum as it was known then. He is described as ‘a happy inmate’. I wondered whether he was one of many who enjoyed working in the grounds, gardening. Years later gardening was deemed exploitative though I would have thought it therapeutic as is the Dorking Patchwork Garden. Did anyone grieve this man, did his passing diminish life at Earlswood?

A small headstone denotes the death of a baby of 3 months who was born shortly after me. He must have been much loved during his short life but never experienced the many blessings afforded to me by virtue of living so many more years. I wonder how his life might have been had he lived and what remembering does for him as for all the other babies who have died before death or soon afterwards.

When we see the huge war cemeteries in France that sets off other emotions. The dreadful consequences of war, the courage of so many and the consequences too for the millions of survivors whose lives were so changed. The headstones are very evocative.

Jill Pipe