We spent a quiet afternoon with Stephen, Paul's cousin. Their fathers were brothers: Ronald and John. Uncle John passed away in the spring of last year and Stephen and his brother Sam have boxes of diaries and photos that they are slowly going through; piecing together the chronology of a family's life.
We looked through many envelopes with photos and negatives, all in a brown paper bag with the word "Photographs" written on the front.
As Paul and I drove home at the end of the evening, both of us had the same response to going back through generations of his family in photographs: his grandparents with their grandchildren; those babies now grandparents themselves.
We were struck by the brevity of life, seeing them all there in a paper bag, spanning 80 years and realized that we won't go on forever any more than they did, although we don't face or think about that fact usually.
It wasn't a maudlin thought, but a prompt to slow down more; to enjoy the moments we have--and not to be so obsessed by the busyness that possesses our normal lives. Life goes by much faster than we think. It does go by.
Stephen told Paul that he and Sam have yet to scatter their dad's ashes over the Malvern Hills,) which is also where Paul was born.)
Then he said to Paul that Uncle John's ashes were in the cupboard beside him and asked if he'd like to feel how heavy they were. He brought out a red bag containing an oblong box and we both felt the weight--much heavier than we thought!
If they can organize it on Sunday afternoon, Paul will go with them to the Malvern Hills and do this one last thing for Uncle John.
Uncle John lived his last few years in a newer home he bought in Worcester, but Stephen stayed on in the old home they had shared for decades.
More than Uncle John's ashes linger there--part of him is in that home.