Morning memories

The sun rises over a few cm of snow high up in Sparty Lea, covering everything in pristine white

So many memories poured out yesterday, as the village turned up in force to honour and remember Nigel Geoffrey Baynes. He seemed to have touched everyone, in one way or another, and it felt like a sacred duty to be there, in one way or another ourselves, to say goodbye, to say thanks for brightening our lives.

With every chuckle, snort and chortle, and there were many as the memories were re-examined, the ragged gasp at the back of our throats kept reminding us that this life has been snuffed out far too soon, that we have lost a vibrant part of the fabric of the community.

How can the sun still rise, in the face of such a loss? How can the landscape ever renew? And yet, to sit looking at the vast expanse of snow cover, as the sun rises over the high fellside, is a realisation that with or without us, life goes on, is constantly replaced by the following day’s experiences.

That each moment is precious, a glinting diamond of joy, and we must somehow endeavour to take comfort in the passage of time. Although every funeral we attend is a tangible harbinger of our impending mortality, each time of quiet reflection is also a reminder that we must appreciate joy when it’s with us.

At one of the recent Lions Club meetings, I was feeling in a decidedly grumpy mood, anti-social, somewhat bitter and twisted, and uncomfortable to boot with an injured hamstring. Nigel looked at me and asked, as pointed as ever, ‘Where’s the happy Larry gone? Can’t he come back?’ I felt abashed and chagrinned, and I resolved to try to remember cheerfulness, rather than succumbing to feeling sorry for myself.

But it is hard, very hard, to carry on, to find any joy at all, when naughty Nigel has gone. When he’s not here to cajole some semblance of a smile from a truculent disposition. Perhaps the best way to hold his memory, however, is to try hard, very hard, to seek out that moment of joy, that precious moment that life brings, all unexpected and wondrous.

Like the quiet snow covering the mourning valley as the sun rises.

5 responses to “Morning memories”

  1. Firstly, let me say kudos on the beautiful picture of sunrise posted with ‘Morning Memories’ on Roads to Joy. I looked at the beautiful sunrise & thought of your recent move. I’m sure moving to a bungalow in a village has its rewards but it must be a mixed blessing when looking back at the beauty of Sparty Lea. 

    In today’s Joy your thoughts hit close to home for me. You were indeed blessed to have a friend like Nigel to ask you, “Where’s the happy Larry gone? Can’t he come back?” I have at times warned Connie that I needed alone time bc I had become grouchy due to aches, pains & not enough sleep. I assure her that my grouchiness has nothing to do with her. Still I wish that I wasn’t feeling cranky.

    I think I would not react well to Connie asking, “Where has happy Henry gone? Can he step forward?” That wouldn’t be good. However if  a friend like your late friend Nigel asked the same question perhaps I would get in touch with “happy Henry”. I can think of present & late friends who have/had the ability to be blunt and/or make me laugh.

    Larry, thank you for Joy. In turn I wish you joy. I hope you will remember the questions of your late friend  Nigel whenever you feel in a “grumpy mood, anti-social, somewhat bitter and twisted, and uncomfortable to boot”. I don’t know if it’s true for you but at age 70+ there always seems to be the present physical malady. Even though I did not know Nigel I hope that I will remember his questions because I neither want chronic  & acute conditions nor aches & pains to define my life.

    Naughty Nigel may not be there but it’s very obvious that happy memories of him remain. Your writing causes me to reflect upon dear ones & friends whose memory can still have a positive effect on me. May happy Larry be present as you enjoy your afternoon & evening. 🙂
    Regards, Henry


  2. Lovely writing as ever Larry and a great sentiment. The actor Richard E Grant, who lost his wife in recent months, talks of how in her final days she encouraged him to find ‘pockets of joy’ in the world after she departed it. I think this is appropriate for many at this time. Thinking of the family who showed such strength on what was a very sad and surreal day in the village yesterday.

    Apologies if this comment is posted twice, by the way. Thought I’d replied earlier but can’t see it here!


    1. Thank you Mary! I’m sure that the pockets of joy are there, lurking somehow underneath the sorrow, but perhaps in deep grief just the realisation that they are there, possibly desperately inaccessible for now, but there nevertheless, can be a life-sustaining force. I do hope so. I know that the power of the funeral service was such that it helped to show us this, and I share your hope that this huge outpouring of grief will bring some comfort to Nigel’s family and his closest friends, indeed to all of us who knew him.


  3. Nigel was a one off, this is not a platitude because no one could match his energy, enthusiasm joie de vivre and penchant for political incorrectness, wearing wigs and cross dressing to hilarious effect, god knows what my nickname was , miserable old bat who lives in a chapel probably


    1. You could well be right, but then again, I’m not sure many of us actually knew the private names that were uttered up in the Hen House. We made do with ‘Harry’ and eventually named our ancient motorhome ( in response. You’re definitely right, a uniqueness far beyond any platitude.


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