Two of my cousins, Freda and Joan came to see us today, along with Joan's husband, Bob. Here they are just over a year ago on a similar visit.
Taking the family photo set off various lines of thinking. What do these frozen moments in time tell us about ourselves and our families? Will we look back and say "do you remember this time or that time we met? Look at how well/ill someone looks, happy/unhappy (but how would you know as we all "smile for the camera"?)
In the intervening year, Parkinson's disease has made Joan slower and more wobbly on her feet. She has managed to smile for this photo, but her facial muscles are quite rigid so smiles don't come easily. Her skin looks smoother and less wrinkled than you might expect for someone her age.
Today Mum talked about times past and memories that were new to the rest of us. J and F's uncle returned from Germany after WWII with a German fiancee, whom he married. This caused problems in the family where other young men had returned from fighting too. My Dad - related only by marriage - gave the bride away because she had no family. That made me very proud. It was so like him to be kind (and principled) in this way.
There were other memories. Dad and his brother, Fred, (J and F's father) both played table tennis at the Sunderland Adult School. Dad always said that Fred was a much better player, but had less success in the league than Dad because he did not have "the killer instinct". This was news to J and F, but quite characteristic of their father (who incidentally taught me to box.......OK, I know that doesn't make sense).
Later, over our evening meal Mum talked to me about how she and Dad met and went courting all those years ago.
PS The walking festival programmes were ready today and I have collected them. Hooray!