My closest family, apart from my niece, are my cousins.
We have been in and out of each others' lives for years, and their children and grandchildren add much joy to my life.
When it was their Ruby Wedding I was asked to contribute, and wrote & read a poem which sums up for me what they mean to us and to each other.
Perhaps you won't know who half the people mentioned are, but I think you will gather that they are special people.
Perhaps you may have noticed that things often come in twos,
Like ham & eggs, & arms & legs, & fish & chips, & shoes:
Bonny & Clyde, Jekyll & Hyde, Ginger & Fred Astaire--
Tonight we join to celebrate a yet more perfect pair.
Like Black & Dekker, Marks & Sparks,they've been a perfect fit:
If Rita is a glass of gin, John's definitely IT!
Paddington bear loves marmalade, & slimmers love Ryvita:
Pigs love mud, & vampires blood: John's love is all for Rita.
And Rita's multi-talented -- a Supermum & Nan,
A teacher, carer,taxi-driver, carrier of the can
And possibly, a Mountie -- for she really got her man!
While John has been the engineer, a source of oily mess,
A fixer-up, a planter-out,photographer, no less
A carpenter & brewer,& a scholarly success.
The cheshire cat without a grin, TV with nothing on,
A rainy day without a mack -- that's Rita without John.
Since John & Rita met, full forty years have galloped by,
But it wasn't at a summer ball that Reet first caught John's eye
They weren't in Rome or Paris when romance first overflowed,
But in a caff for lorry-drivers down the Blackhorse Road!
The highlight of those early years was camping ( often wet);
The Barclams & the Halfacres are friends you'll not forget
And journeys to the Lakes,& Stan & Doreen in Dumfries
And year by year you've seen your little family increase.
Of man, God said it is not good that he should live alone:
In forty years of matrimony, how the clan has grown!
For marriage carries consequences, & it must be said
This hall would be half-empty if you two had not been wed:
I can rejoice in Mary's boys, in Ben & John & Jamie ---
To date, your count is( wait for it! ) Catarina, Caleb, Georgiana,
Nicholas, Noah, Gabriella,
Samuel .....& Amie!
The Andersons kept Open House: they had an open door
To welcome friends & strangers in -- well, what are houses for?
The Garage, an Aladdin's cave, was heaped with bits & pieces
And John and Geoff spent hours there, for they love to be where grease is:
The projects & experiments they struggled to complete
Left them no room to park the car, which stayed out in the street!
Tonight's a night for memories -- so where do we begin?
There've been so many happy times, it's hard to fit them in:
Hot summer days at Steeple Bay, with mud up to the knees,
And Balsham where we all met up,the tractor & the teas:
260 crammed on Boxing Day,with chestnuts on the fire,
The pig that had a wooden leg,John master of the choir,
The kids & dogs & presents,simply no room to manoeuvre,
And late-night mad hysteria as we sucked things up the Hoover...
Then New-Year's Eve in Hampton Road for silly games & fun
What dried-pea fights & talent contests we have lost and won!
Last, we give thanks for creature comforts --- all those pets we've known,
Who've dragged us out on wintry walks, & fetched the balls we've thrown:
Eartha & Brin, & bouncing Beth,Daisy & daughter Fred,
Musetta, who could really understand what humans said.
No room for more: so many friends,no space to name them all
But don't forget the happiness you've shared here in this hall:
This Church is where you married, where the journey was begun
And through the years it's been a source of strength, & faith, & fun:
You've brought the babies here,you've worked & worshipped at ' the Cong'
If home is where the heart is, maybe here's where you belong!
Of all your friends & family, some few could not be here
Who played a part in all our lives,& held you very dear:
Love never dies, & so tonight they're with us as we say
God bless you, Mrs. Anderson: God bless you, Mr.A,
And may you, all your years, enjoy the love we share today.
Here are the happy couple.
They have had a Golden Wedding Anniversary since then, but I didnt write a poem for that party!