A bitterly cold day, but the sun is out. I didn’t expect anything less. It is the day we are finally saying goodbye to Hilda. A woodpecker is happily pecking away as it flitted up the oak tree. It doesn’t look like it has found what it is looking for as it pecks on the finer branches before flying off. It is only the second time I’ve seen a woodpecker in my back garden. I check the internet and find out that it is a great spotted woodpecker. With black and white plumage and a red patch on its head, it is a pretty sight.
The service is at quarter to one. Luckily I am off this morning. Getting time off at short notice is impossible unless it is a dire emergency. I have to go to work at two but it gives me ample time to attend the service, but not the reception which is to follow. We follow our neighbour’s car and join them when we get to the crematorium. We are still a little too early and join our other neighbours in the waiting room. When the time comes, Hilda arrives in a coffin covered with yellow roses to Nat King Cole’s tune ‘Unforgettable’. We follow the coffin into the hall.
The celebrant does a short speech taking us through Hilda’s history. A welsh girl who fell in love with a sergeant in the army from London. When the Second World War broke out and Londoners were evacuated Hilda moved up north with her young child and with the second child on the way. With her husband away fighting for Queen and Country Hilda had to manage on her own. Once the war was over George set up a successful furniture business and they moved to Chigwell in 1961 where she lived till she moved to Epping with her daughter about three years ago. Hilda’s only son died a few years ago after a prolonged illness.
Hilda kept the car that George bought her before he died for almost 30 years. No one would service it and so she found a mechanic who would come to her house every year to take it away to get it serviced. He happily did this till she had to get rid of it before she went to live with her daughter. She was caught speeding twice in that car and that too at the same spot about ten years ago.
More speeches later we bid farewell to Hilda for the final time. She was indeed ‘unforgettable’. The speeding granny who left an indelible impression on everyone she met. A cheerful soul who greeted everyone with a warm hug. We shall miss her deeply but we are fortunate to have known her.
If I can stay positive when the chips are down, if I can stay cheerful when the road ahead looks bleak then I know who to thank for this valuable lesson in life. As I leave to go to work the sun is at it’s brightest. Hilda is saying her goodbyes in style and she is waving to us one last time just as she used to from her kitchen window.