Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Jim

A few weeks ago I attended the funeral in the village of an old man whom I had met only a very few times, a man who once astonished me by telling me that he remembered me in his prayers each night.   Jim was born in this village and lived here for over 90 years.   His family has long associations with the area.   Deep roots and spreading branches.  

His funeral was held in the Baptist Meeting, an early 18th century stone chapel at the top of the hill, where Jim had worshipped all his life.   I've always loved this building.   It stands four-square though quite small, full of soft pine pews polished for nearly three hundred years by the seats of woollen trousers.   Like many non-conformist places of worship, it has an upper balconied storey, keeping the congregation close and cosy.   When the minister stretched up his arm from the pulpit below, I could almost have touched his hand.  

The minister knew Jim and his family well and conducted the service with great affection.   There was a bit of a muddle with the order of the hymns and he graciously suffered a fairly robust reprimand from the organist - herself 90 years old, deaf as a post and clearly not one to stand any nonsense.  

Although I was only in Jim's company on a handful of occasions, he unfailingly told me the same old story.   His wife would roll her eyes, affectionately.  But I cherish the story and he always held my hand during the telling.  Hold my hand.   Here's the story.

Jim was the youngest of a large family and on the day that he was born his father had been out toiling in the fields all day.   When he arrived home he bounded upstairs to their cottage bedroom to greet his wife and asked, "Well, girl, what have you given me this time?"  "I've given you a little cherub", she replied.  

14 comments:

Magic Cochin said...

You story of Jim brought a lump to my throat. I can just picture the Baptist chapel.

My Grandma's funeral was in a similar place (now demolished) packed with people, standing room only. We had no idea so many people knew her - a widow for 50 years. Then realised she had laid-out their loved ones, dusted their houses, picked and packed their crops and polished the chapel every week.

What precious memories
Celia

Gina said...

Beautiful.

PG said...

What a good life to have lead and all in the same place. I too find small churches and chapels more moving than the grand places. I hope that Jim and his wife are holding hands again, somewhere or in another life.

Jee said...

Such a lovely story - worth the constant retelling. The chapel sounds very peaceful.

Jill said...

A moving and lovely story.

Menopausal musing said...

How lovely to have lived somewhere for 90 years....... This was a beautiful story Chrissie.

Kris said...

This is very touching, very human and most encouraging. Sounds like love to me :)

Anonymous said...

You've told me this story before Chrissie and I've always thought it beautiful but today it brought a tear to my eye. Love is truly a wonderful thing.
Anne

Printed Material said...

Chrissie,
What a wonderful story. I'm swallowing the tears and saying a silent prayer for Jim. How lovely that he included you in his. Lesley x

JP said...

love the story

thewildhare said...

A wonderful story, a wonderful memory. Thank you for sharing. God bless Jim, his family, and the entire community. Goodness.

lasninastextiles.com said...

gorgeous blog.

Jenny said...

Beautiful story and very well told. I often envy my brother still living in the village where he and I were born, he has a real sense of belonging and though I've lived away for 40 years and moved around I still feel that is where my roots are.

narkeymarkey said...

what a lovely story. and, for me at least, the best stories are worth re-telling and we delight in hearing them every time, on each occasion anticipating the wonderfully familiar ending. sounds like a true gentleman, sorry to hear he has passed on :)x