I’m not quite sure how to start this particular retirement blog and you’ll probably think I’ve made it up anway. For one thing it’s not really about retirement per se merely one example of the kind of events that happen to a person who is retired. Well, this person anyway. You see I thought I had left the weirdness behind when we returned from our Ireland trip. I made quite a few stories out of the strange things that happened to us when we were there. One of the events I wrote about was the three guys in the Transit pick-up one of whom was called Galvin – or was he, there was some debate about this. But what remains absolutely certain is that the middle chewing man (you had to be there or read that blog) told me there were a lot of Galvins in this area although I couldn’t find a single one in the burial ground, I had no reason to doubt him. The frequency of Galvins in the area was confirmed again by the regular sight of the name Galvins on the front of a number of tour buses. I would have liked to put a photo of one in this blog but couldn’t find the one I thought I had taken nor were there any pictures on their website but at least the website existed, proving it hadn’t all been a dream. As sometimes life appears to be. Forgive my being cryptic but you will see why in a moment. All I can do is include below a direct quote from the website by way of proof.
Galvin’s Coaches is a long established coach operator in Ireland. Founded in 1941, today the family owned company operates a fleet of modern deluxe coaches of varying seating capacity, with on – board features such as air -conditioning and toilets.
The point is, in case you were wondering, that while Galvin is a common name in the west of Ireland it certainly isn’t in Heanor, location, you will remember of the Derbyshire cottage and my late mother. It’s over a year since she died and, and I’m not proud of this fact, but there were extenuating circumstances, to a degree anyway, but since we got her ashes back from the undertaker she has been in the cupboard with, as Mrs Summerhouse unkindly put it, the cereal packets. Let me explain if I can. We brought her home and she stayed in her old bedroom for a period while we got motivated to take action, but then when we started to clear the house out and decorate she had to move and hence into the cupboard. She didn’t seem to mind. It was after all less of a slight than being taken to the tip in the gardening van when our gardener who was helping me clear the house misunderstood his remit. No, Adam, do not take my mother to the tip and dump her.
The cupboard placement was, you will understand, only a short term measure but then bureaucracy stepped in. We had decided we would scatter her ashes on my father’s grave, have a plaque made and re-cover the grave with new stones, ashes underneath. Sounds like a plan. So we asked a local stone mason to make the plaque to our specification but then it turned out we couldn’t do this without the permission of the local council. This took a couple of months and was only progressed when I contacted the stone mason and asked what was happening. It turned out she couldn’t be scattered on the grave, not because she didn’t own it, but because she did. The grave had to be transferred to my name so this process could begin and it had to be witnessed by a solicitor. So more delay. I hope I’m convincing you I’m not really a bad son.
Anyway all this was done and the permission letter I presumed, after we returned it to the council, was sent to the stone mason. Once again a long wait. I enquired what was happening and the stone mason replied with the bill and a photograph of the ‘new’ grave. It looked very nice, indeed was very nice, only one teeny weeny problem, she was on the wrong grave. I can hear her giggling now – not. Actually, her ashes weren’t on the grave because we still had them. So that was a bit of luck. I had expected the stone mason to contact us when all was ready and we would scatter the ashes and then put the new stones on top somehow but the photo showed the stones already in place, on the wrong grave, yes, but in place. The grave had been nicely tidied up as agreed, somebody is going to get a (pleasant?) surprise when they next visit their loved one. The photo is above, looks nice doesn’t it and here’s where it gets really weird. If you look closely ( I didn’t because the photo came through on my phone and apart from a vague sense of unease – I don’t remember my father’s grave looking quite like that – that I only identified as such at a later stage, I couldn’t see the detail, in fact it was only after Mrs Summerhouse enlarged the image on her phone that the awful truth was revealed, you will begin to understand the mistake. The name on the grave is Galvin. This person died in 1963, ten years almost to the day after my father and he was 45, same age as my father. Weird or what. So close but, as they say, no cigar. So I called the stone mason and said it looks lovely but she’s on the wrong grave. He wasn’t quite as apologetic as I thought he might be, probably happens all the time, oh, you want her moving, but it looks so nice where she is. But he promised me he would move her to the right grave. So that’s nice I thought. See below.
Through all this you have to bear in mind that the chances of finding another Galvin in Marlpool cemetery is between slim and no chance and Slim is out of town, as somebody once said. And now we have paid over £400, yes, I know it’s not about the money, and we still have her ashes. She’s still in the cereal cupboard. It also makes a bit of a nonsense of the words on the plaque (reunited) but that’s another story. We’re going to scatter most of the ashes on one of her favourite places in Derbyshire where she liked to walk – Dovedale probably. The irony is of course that we could have done that in the first place within a week or two of getting the ashes and saved ourselves a few bob to boot. Oh, how we laughed and we’re still laughing. And I know she will be too – not.
So welcome home, back to our steady retirement life. Oh, and the blower’s broke and the lawn-mower is on the blink so we’ll probably need a new one. Yes, welcome home indeed. Retirement is a wonderful thing.