Friday 9am...the phone rings. (I'm home because it's one of my flex days off.)
Valerie: "Are you doing anything tomorrow?"
Me: "Not really."
Val: "Are you up for a road trip?"
Val: "Ok, we're going to a funeral in Port Hawkesbury."
(A funeral, eh...why am I not surprised?!)
Valerie adds that after the funeral, she was thinking we could take the meandering route home and she could show me her former pastoral charge in Mulgrave. Sounds good to me, so we make plans for her to pick me up Sat morning at 7:30 am. Port Hawkesbury is a two+ hour drive away from my house. The funeral is for the father of a woman in our congregation, who had himself been a member for the past six years since he moved in with his daughter. But he was from Port Hawkesbury, and had been very involved in the building of the church there, so that's where his funeral was being held. (A couple others from our church family were also driving up, but Val and I didn't travel with them since we were making a day of it.)
Saturday morning...away we go. The skies were overcast, but still a bright day...in fact we'd barely pulled away from my house when we were both lamenting having forgotten our sunglasses.
"The time has come," the Walrus said, "To talk of many things: Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax-- Of cabbages--and kings-- And why the sea is boiling hot-- And whether pigs have wings." ~ Lewis Carroll, The Walrus and The Carpenter
We did indeed talk of many things! When we reach Antigonish, we stopped in at McDonald's for breakfast and then continued on our way. We arrived at the church about half an hour before the service...finding two of the women from our church already there. When Helen (the woman whose father died) arrived, she asked Valerie to speak after the eulogy. The service was being presided over by the minister of the Port Hawkesbury church, so Val wasn't expecting to have any part. First she declined (not wanting to step on any toes, since some people are touchy about others invading their turf), but then she agreed since Helen wanted her own minister to speak, and really whatever provides comfort to the grieving family is the important thing. Have to say, I wasn't very impressed with the presiding minister...if you can believe it, he barely acknowledged the family in any real way, never offered any words of comfort, referred to Helen's dad as "the deceased" (I thought yeesh, couldn't you have at least used the man's name?!) So turned out to be a very good thing Valerie was able to extend comfort and prayers on behalf of our church family during the service.
At the reception, we discovered that one of the funeral directors was from the same area of Newfoundland as Valerie...and his mother-in-law was one of Val's mother's closest friends. What a bizarre coincidence! And he said his MIL was at his house, just a couple minutes from the church, and asked if Val wanted to go say hello. Of course she did. We didn't stay long, just long enough for a quick catch up and we hit the road. Our first stop was the home of a couple former parishioners, with whom Val has remained close. We had tea and pie and conversation...and then off we went (with jars of homemade pickles in hand!)
Next stop was Trinity United Church, one of four churches in Mulgrave pastoral charge where Valerie was minister (about 15 yrs ago, I think).
The church was open, so in we went...
View from the balcony...
We continued on to the *little church* in Melford...which isn't actually much smaller than the other churches, but apparently is always referred to as the *little church*. Val said it was her church in the wildwood (which is the name of an old hymn for those unfamiliar with the phrase.)
I understand that the church is no longer in use, seems the steeple is structurally unsound these days. The door was locked, but we looked in the window, and took some really cool photos of the interior, with the trees reflected on the panes...
Then along we went to the Hadleyville United Church...where the Hadley family worshipped (go figure!)
It too was locked...actually Trinity was the only one open. But even if we only saw them from the outside, it was still cool for me to visit these places from Valerie's past with her. (Is such a fun privilege to poke around in your best friend's book of life, isn't it?!)
I loved the old elm tree in the cemetery...
And then on we went to St. Matthew's in Bayfield. When she was minister at this pastoral charge, Valerie's Sundays would start at Bayfield, then she'd drive to Trinity in Mulgrave, and finally she'd preach at a third service at either Melford or Hadleyville (location alternated each week), or someone's living room in the winter months!
The cemetery beside St. Matthew's...
After St. Matthew's, we stopped at one of those country stores which can be full of treasure, or trash. This particular one was mostly full of old, used junk...not in very good condition. Although we did get some neat little tealight candle lanterns for the camper (new, still in their boxes). We were getting hungry by this point, so we had "lupper" at Mother Webb's...so named because we ate somewhere in between lunch and supper! Certainly nothing to write home about. My steak was decent, Val's was mediocre at best...her coffee was undrinkable...they charged $3 extra for the side order of mushrooms, which turned out to be canned! And their menu was full of bizarre claims. The drinks section offered Iceburg Vodka or Newfoundland Screetch, and claimed that was all true Newfoundlanders drink...this came as a surprise to Valerie, who I suspect wouldn't be caught dead drinking Screetch. I also noticed a comment below the fish & chips that said Maritime born folks always have garlic bread with their fish and chips...this was news to me, having never paired fish & chips with garlic bread in my life! Oh well...we enjoyed ourselves anyway and that's the main thing. :)
After we satisfied our hunger, Valerie showed me the church where her husband Mark was priest when they lived in Antigonish. The lovely, and lovingly maintained, St. Paul the Apostle Anglican church...
The street signs in Antigonish are in English and Gaelic...I've no clue how to pronounce the Gaelic though!
This is the steeple of the United Church in Antigonish...wasn't one of Val's churches, but I just liked the look of the white steeple against the sky so had to snap a photo!
We made one final stop for a hot fudge sundae and then hit the road again. We shared more conversation on the drive home...we never seem to run out of things to talk about, although we are also comfortable sharing silence. Moira was staying at Kaleigh's, so after Valerie dropped me off at home, I got to enjoy a quiet evening with Dave (bonus!) And so ended another day in the life of us... ♥