So Richard & I and Tim & Peter got up horribly early - well, Peter is a morning person, so he probably bounced out of bed at daybreak by choice, but I dragged myself out of bed at 11 having only fallen asleep a couple of hours earlier - damned insomnia. We drove down to sunny Wiltshire, and it was... well, not sunny for one. Lovely day when we left home, halfway down the motorway and an enormous black cloud came overhead. Had lousy food at a Little Chef - I've had their Veggie Breakfast before and it's been absolutely fine, though more deep-fried than I'd eat by choice - but this one was Not So Good. Obviously different branches have different standards - avoid the one on the A303 at Popham! There's another two within half an hour on the same road, anyway!
Went up to the cemetary and put a plant on the grave. I didn't want to leave cut flowers which would die within a couple of days - I tend to see them as a waste. So we bought an outdoor flowering plant from Marks & Spencer in a nice pot, and put that there instead. The gravestone Richard's dad chose is interesting - it's a lump of Sarcen stone - quite literally a lump - it's been left to look as natural as possible, no filing to shape or polishing. It's nice but, ugh, some of the other gravestones there are over the top. I mean, you buy a gravestone to show the world how much you loved your relative, and you know it'll be there for at least a century, maybe two - so the least you could do is pick something tasteful! Wind chimes do not belong on a gravestone, in my ever so humble opinion. Likewise, a gravestone for "a loving father and grandpa" should not resemble an inflatable Disney castle! You think I'm exaggerating, but you didn't see it.
Then we went round to Richard's grandmother's house, and that was a depressing experience. She's very nice, but very old, and so deaf that I couldn't really converse with her at all - wrong frequency voice or something. And she is still so utterly gobsmacked - wrong word to use here really, but I can't think of an alternative - by Richard's mum's death - it's like the bottom dropped out of her world. (Those of you who read this card as genuine sentiment were right, btw). She said she still can't believe it, and the only thing she's glad of is that it was quick, and Elisabeth wouldn't have wanted to left incapacitated, she'd have hated that. And she held her wrist out to Richard and told him to smell it and did it smell like Elisabeth, because she'd found a bottle of perfume left over that she had been going to give her for Christmas. And I didn't feel upset in the cemetary at all really - we were joking about the horrible gravestones, in a desperate attempt to prove we were still alive and didn't have to fear death, or something, but I cried my eyes out in his grandmother's house, and then again in bed.
It doesn't hurt all the time like it did (I tried to find the post I made about this last year, but it's hiding), but I'm still gobsmacked - and I'm really quite a minor relative by comparison. I noticed only earlier this month, when I was talking to someone I've met since Richard's mum's death, that it didn't hurt to refer to her in the past tense, at least in the context of that conversation - and that's a new thing. I'm sure over time it hurts less. But I feel guilty for it hurting so much, and afraid to talk to Richard about it because I don't want him to get upset - and guilty that I don't feel the same way about some of my blood relatives. But when someone is both very old and very ill, you expect them to die - you're warned that time may be short and can start coming to terms with it. Whereas with a sudden death, there's nothing you can do - if the last conversation you had was something mundane like you yelling at them for leaving the toilet seat up, you're stuck with that. (Not that we did, it's just an example).
Here's a picture of Richard and his parents, taken not very long before she died, by the way.
There wasn't much to see until we got near to Devizes, where we saw Stonehenge, burial mounds, and a couple of Victorian follies. And after the cemetary, we went to Avebury (Avesbury? never been sure if it's singular or plural), another stone circle near Stonehenge, but much older - and the main road drives straight through the middle of it, so you can see it without even getting out and walking. Although we went in memory of his mum, who took us there once on a freezing cold day in midwinter when it had been raining and the field the stones stand in was muddy, and she was wearing a pair of high-heeled shoes. Mad woman, absolutely mad I tell you. (Richard comes from a long line of eccentrics, on both sides). Then afterwards we went to Marlborough where there is a lovely place that does cream teas from 8.30am to 7pm, which should cater for most people. Then we drove home. Was nice to get out of London, but... *sigh*.