Julie was born in Cornwall. So were her parents. So were all her grandparents and all her great grandparents. In fact as far as we know her blood is Cornish back to the mists of unrecorded time. And so it was no small thing, genetically speaking, when her parents, David and Una, pulled up stakes and moved to Canada in 1957 where their daughter would meet and marry a Canadian (of mixed Anglo-Saxon ancestry) and produce half Cornish children. While Dave & Una lived the rest of their lives in Canada and became Canadian citizens, Cornwall was always home. In their hearts and in their souls they were Cornish and yesterday their ashes returned to the soil from whence they came.
Our family trip to England was planned around this event. The current St Illogan Parish church is a lovely old mid nineteenth century building, built of Cornish granite. The church grounds are several acres at least, comprised mostly of a living churchyard, ie no neatly trimmed lawns and orderly rows of headstones. Instead, native plants, trees and brambles grow up around and over the graves.
Small pathways bisect the grounds. It is a lovely, peaceful place. The North Cliffs are not far away and the smell of the sea mingles with the more earthy textures of this quiet wooded space. There is a school yard across the road and we heard the laughter of children back for their first day of the new school year. Julie was baptized at this church and her parents now share a gravesite with her maternal grandparents. It seems there could be no more fitting place for their mortal remains.
Two days earlier Julie and I picked up the casket and drove to the church to meet with the pastor and the church warden in order to review the service and also to transfer the ashes from the travel containers. After getting thoroughly lost between the stonemason’s and the church we were both feeling very emotional about the task ahead. However, both Marlene and Martin were very calming influences and having to attend to practical matters helped calm us down. The service itself was an uplifting affair and all but one or two of their relatives attended. Julie and Blake both spoke lovingly and there were more than a few moist eyes as the organist thundered “We’ll meet again” as the recessional. Then out to the churchyard where Blake placed their casket at last in the earth. Then back to the church for a bit of lunch. What else but pasties, scones, saffron buns and heavy cake. Cornish made indeed!
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