Reception Day

On Sunday I was received into the Roman Catholic church, at St Peter’s in Eynsham. Lovely Louise, and the ‘newly engaged’ Stephen, were my sponsors.

During the Confirmation ceremony, the Priest addresses the candidate by their “Confirmation Name”. This is a saint’s name, who you will pray to for help and guidance. I choose Gertrude of Nivelles (NOT because she’s patron saint of cats, but for other worthier reasons :-)…).

Many thanks to everyone who came, or held me in their thoughts and prayers. It was a very special day.

PS plus a big thank you to Siobhan (Mrs Stephen to be) for taking the pics.

100 Years Young!

Yesterday, my maternal Grandmother, Hanna Gertrude Holm-Petersen Bedford (Gertie) was 100! Here she is with my Uncle John, and my Ma, Ingrid.

Who knew there were so many 100th birthday cards available? Here are a few of Gertie’s cards…

…and here are a few more, and some family photos.

Gertie had a telegram from this woman in a yellow dress.

We decided that 100 candles would be a little too many to blow out…

…but Gertie did have a handsome wine waiter of her own :-)…

…and her two granddaughters.

Gertie Thoughts

My folks are here this weekend and we went up to Alveston to see Gert and Dord (my Grandmother and Uncle). I always find these visits very sad. When I was a kid, trips to ‘Valhalla’ – trips to my my Grandmother’s house were treats indeed. We’d play all day; either by the water or in the water; make reed boats; row (as it boat…) ; and have picnics – all very Famous Five.

And now all the energy has gone – Gertie is 99 and half – living in a nursing home down the road, and my Uncle and the wallpaper are growing old together (although he’s far more active than most people half his age). It’s just that Gertie was always so ALIVE – full of fire and spirit. I feel as if part of me has gone – has withered on the vine.

Memento mori? Or rather ‘what will survive of us is love’?

Birthday Girl!

I was too busy dashing around and generally being familial to take many photos at Gertie’s party. But here is one of the few – the Birthday Girl enjoying Sue’s fuchsia picture.

Gertie’s younger brother, Erik, was a artist (as well as an eye surgeon) and she has a number of his paintings at home. She was really pleased to have something ‘painted for her’ once more. Many, many thanks Sue!

Good news from Alveston

I am REALLY pleased to be able to report that Gertie (here in her trademark red, with my Uncle John) is a lot better. I hadn’t realised just how upset and tense I was about her, until I felt the huge surge of relief when I saw her this morning. She is still having problems with her grip, which means she can’t eat or drink by herself. However, when I went to leave she gripped my hand so tightly I couldn’t pull it away (and yes, that broke my heart).

My Uncle’s house is outside Alveston village where Gertie is in a nursing home. As it was such a beautiful day we took the river footpath there and back.

The river is deeply meshed into my relationship with Gertie. It was here she taught us to swim; the art of the picnic; how to make reed boats; the sensual delight of swimming naked and then drying your skin in the sun; and how to row a boat.

I love the river path as it is always quiet and seems to be outside time.

This lily bed will be glorious in a few weeks time.

I’m really pleased with the dappled sunlight on the right hand side of this picture. Don’t you wish you were here?

Glorious No More

I went up to Alveston to see Gertie today. The Dr thinks that she’s had another brain stem stroke. This has caused various neurological damage, including impairing her ability to swallow (it takes 26 muscles and 5 brain operations apparently – wow). She didn’t know me when I arrived, the first time that’s ever happened – although she had ‘warmed up’ by the time I left.

She was/is a strange and difficult woman, but always magnificent. As my Dad once said, she should really have been leading a barbarian horde with a sabre between her teeth. It’s dreadful to see her so reduced.

I have been very blessed to have 3 such strong, feisty women as Auntie Joan, Rowan and Gertie in my life. Losing them hurts.

Glorious Gertie

“That is the true season of love, when we believe that we alone can love, that no one could ever have loved so before us, and that no one will love in the same way after us.” Goethe

Gertie, my grandmother is seriously ill. I’m sharing a few pictures of her with you as a sort of meditation.

This one was taken in August 1997 on her 89th birthday.

Here is one of her helping with the harvest.

I’ve no idea when this was taken. It could have been at any point in the last 60 years! Gertie by her beloved river, soaking up the sun.