Last week at the Hudson Road Friendship Club, everybody was telling their stories and re-living their memories from the last World War. It was Thursday 11th and we had just listened to 'The Last Post' on the radio and sat in silence for those long two minutes. I found it incredibly moving to watch the faces of the men and women, as they remembered their lost loved ones. Theirs was the generation on whom the hardship of the war had taken its toll.
One of the reasons I enjoy being a Celebrant is the chance to hear people's stories. These may be individual tales of love and first meetings, or a whole family's memories from a Grandparent's life. It is these stories, with all their quirks and individuality, that form the backbone of many of my ceremonies.
Everybody's stories are important and at the Friendship Club there is always somebody to listen, even if we have heard the tales before.
Remembrance Sunday always affects my guests in a very personal way. Many served in the war or lost friends, parents, brothers or sisters. Later that morning, three elderly gentlemen were re-living their youth and swapping tales of Companies, journeys and injuries. Although I knew the stories, I listened again. Their memories were so clear and their emotions were still strong, it was like hearing young men chatting about last year's adventures.
One gentleman answered a query: "Oh, I was 18 and a half, nearly nineteen" My son Sam was nearly 19 when he went inter-railing last summer. Suddenly, the reality of the men's stories hit me. Why, last summer I had been a bit nervous of Sam taking off across Europe and facing the word on his own. What a comparison!
When Malcom was the same age, he joined up, left home, travelled to India where he took part in fighting and was so badly wounded in his leg, that he had to stay in hospital for two years after he was shipped back to England.
No wonder these men remember their war.
Long may Fathers and Grandfathers tell their tales and re-live the adventures of their youth. To have seen so much, suffered so much when such young men, they deserve to have their stories told and re-told and hopefully, never forgotten.