The family party at the weekend went well and it was good to see people after so many years. When you first see people after a long time you are instantly struck with how much older they look, but this lasts a matter of seconds and then you don't notice it anymore. It just goes to show how little of peoples' appearance is due to their physical features.
After a while we started talking about family parties of old. My aunt May (on this occasion I will use her actual name as she died some time ago) was a real party person. She would cook vol au vonts, cheese and pineapple on sticks, cucumber sandwiches and flans and keep the wine flowing for the adult guests. She would organise party games, sing songs and usually would dress up in fancy dress. (I have a photo somewhere which I will try and work out how to scan and post). She was always accompanied by her friend Doris.
Doris was a family friend. She married her husband Bill during the second world war. They had been married 3 months and he was killed in Normandy. She idolised his memory and never forgot him or remarried despite plenty of prompting from May. My cousin, who knew her better than me recalled that after the war she went to France and found Bills grave. She also found the farm where he died and made friends with the people that lived there. Every year she went over to visit Bills grave. She used to live in Camden Town and when I was working around that way I remember visiting her in her small council flat. Far from leading an isolated and lonely life, she was quite a key person in her community; representing the local senior citizens on various committees and attending many local clubs and groups.
After she died her friends asked my cousin what they should do with her ashes and he immediately suggested that they be scattered over Bill's grave in France. As far as I know getting official permission to do this was getting complicated so they just went over and did it anyway without permission!