We had a full house over the weekend: blow-up mattress, camping cushions in the living room, and three sets of familiars to accommodate in separate quarters. Kali cat lived in the conservatory from whence she could escape to the great outdoors; growing-up kittens Maui and Leo roamed from lounge to bedroom, enjoying their sequestered eating space in the office/porch, while Louis the doting cocker spaniel spent his time hoovering the floor beneath the dining table. The only way our resident feline would eat was if we positioned her bowl safely out of Louis’ reach.
But we revelled in the family togetherness, through burst footballs (our hawthorn hedge is lethal for even the most robust balls) and broken glass flutes, endless streams of pizzas satisfying all dietary requirements, inopportune light fittings and parking stacks all dealt with in their turn. It was such a pleasure to entertain beloved friends from the distant past, friends who had watched our little family grow up. Some of us shared in the funeral for the Queen on the big screen; others of us shared another coffee together and exclaimed over the grand-children’s drawing prowess.
We were also collecting family memorabilia in the form of fading photographs, to form a photobook of Elpha Green Memories. The past thirty years seem to have whizzed by, and yet the time is fast approaching to close that chapter and to move on. As one family member said, we come home to visit you, not the house. But the home is something we’ve created out of bricks and mortar, hedgerows and opportunistic garden birds visiting the feeders. Everything somehow feels wrapped up with everything else.
Some of the photographs, like the panoramic ones taken by late beloved Uncle Ken, with the family goats and the proud Icelandic sheep on the near horizon, are almost indescribably precious. Or the single shot we have of our original two families clustered outside the old dairy, huddled together on a cold spring day of 1992. Some things, like the participatory game we played on into Sunday evening of naming obscure items according to a theme, around the warm fire in the cosy living room, with everyone bright-eyed and thoughtful, couldn’t possibly. be captured in a single image. We shall have to depend on our memories to enjoy those moments again in our minds’ eyes.
Life does go on, until it doesn’t, and while it does we can exalt every day, every moment, that we’re privileged to share.