So where's the snow?

Muddling through life from Austria to Wales; God, life and a small black dog


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Austrian Funeral

It would be so nice to have a wedding or a christening to go to, but no. Sadly one of neighbours died recently who lived on a farm just across the fields from us. He had been in a home but sometimes I had talked to him as he would sit in odd corners where I walked the dog.  His wife has what we call green fingers, I’m always amazed when I walk past the farm at how her garden flourishes. I felt I needed to go to support his family and show we cared.

So on a freezing afternoon, off we went. As we filed into the church I noticed that most of the men went on the right, then as we filed out, Linde pulled my arm and said let the men out first. So of course, my feminist hackles rose. I later found out that in the past, when a man died all the men went to the right and the women left, and when a woman died it wasn’t so important. Now I’m all for respecting customs but that had me angry. Next funeral I will sit on the right with the other feminists, and will barge out first!

A couple of days later, I saw some work starting on the wobbly, run down fences of the farm. Seb, the son and Christian, his son were busy. Christian has inherited the farm and will start running it until such time as it’s free then move in. Wonderful to see a family farm keep the tradition.


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Being positive at a low point

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As you may have guessed dear reader, I really enjoyed my trip home. I’m very aware that I am looking through the old rose tinteds, when you visit home, everyone’s keen and pleased to see you, are on holiday, its not the mundane daily stuff. I must keep things in perspective.

As we left the UK, we heard that Paggy had passed away. The journey home was exhausting and it set off more Menopause symptoms that had me more than desperate. However, I found a really good forum where loads of peeps were really supportive and that cheered me, gave an explantion and I didn’t feel so alone. I also feel God is healing me on this, but one of the results has been a form of PMT, then enusing arguments, but that’s out of the system now! I must keep positive that he has healed me (1Peter, 2:24)

Then just after a big snowfall, Linda came to the door,’Anna, I think I’ve broken my arm, can you take me to hospital?’ She had slipped on the ice in front of her door. We spent a couple of hours in casualty, where she was speedily treated and then we came home.  I was bucked up that I could help someone in need, I need to focus on this.

Paggy’s brother was in the yard, putting all of the contents of the freezer into a skip. There was no will, so the notary was in the house searching for one. Everything has to be turned off, so all had to be chucked. Paggy’ s brother is really nice, I can’t understand why he disliked him so much-but that was Paggy. So Dave and I helped him unpack the food for the container, so I managed to slice my finger!  The flat was sealed and we knew we would meet for the funeral the next day.

That night I went to the Physio, as my back has been playing up again for a while. It seems all the sitting has done no good. She gave me wonderfull treatment which loosened me up, but the upset muscles have given me backache as they sort themselves out! I’m getting better all the time, I must work these muscles, they seem to get so quickly out of shape, and my arm’s stopped aching!

The next day was the funeral. It was a beautiful cold clear day. Dave and I carried the cross which will mark Paggy’s place in the family. We were doubly honoured when the Undertaker put  our little farewell bouquet on it. It was a brief, minimal service. I had a sudden picture of Paggy laughing at us and raising a toast, which made me happier- we know where he is (see previous blog on him). We walked through the village, me being really anxious as I was behind the priest in the icy road and he kept on speeding up and slowing down. The urn was interred, and we sprinkled some water on it. Everyone disappeared. Paggy’s brother was visibly upset so I gave him a hug. He said we will see him soon and he’s make all things right, whatever that meant! Only good will come of this.

Home again, we waited for the electrician , it turned out that when Paggy’s flat was sealed and they turned off the elecricity, something was wrongly labelled and they turned us off, oh well, at least it wasn’t Dave’s wiring!

That night I had to drive to a church meeting, which started off badly, but has filled me with hope that we may be able to turn things around for the Lungau church. Trouble was, my headlights haven’t been adjusted properly since the UK trip, I could hardly see. But God sent me a lorry to follow, and in Murau I put them up again. No one flashed me int he way home so they must be ok! God WILL do great things in this church this year.

Today, I’m tired and sad. I’ve had a mountain of laundry from the holiday houses. Dave is going on and on about the Charlie thing in France, its driving me nuts as I don’t agree with him. His inertia paralyses me from doing all the things I could be doing. No work prospects. Really don’t want to socialise. Wallow, wallow, wallow!  I thought there was going to be some change after the funeral -. coveting Paggy’s flat again.  For two pins I’d pack up the panda and head back to the UK.

Daughter rang today, has had her rent put up so high, she has to move out of her flat. I ached so much that we can’t be there to help her with this -or could we? However, she seems to have already found a room to rent. Now I’m hugging it to myself that it was ME she rang first.

Somehow, I have to stop looking back at the ploughline. I need to look forward to something great happening this year. Perhaps God has sent me all these old people in my life to help me deal with my own issues with ageing. Then when Mr Wommack points out in Hebrews 11.13, how people died still believing for change, never having seen it come to pass, I feel awed and frustrated, NEVER see the change, aw heck!


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Reflections on a funeral

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God has recently given me so much to write about, especially things for Daily readings, which I’ll get to in due course. I even have softened against my conviction not to write my auto biography, I rarely speak of my childhood to anyone, and maybe it would be interesting for the kids. Enough.

One of neighbours (86) died last week after being ill with cancer for a long time (I’m not going to use the cliché). She was a lovely lady and lived a very quiet life with her husband. They were always pleased to see you, but were self-contained. When I saw her just before Christmas she was in a lot of pain and I think had given up.

So we went to the funeral and waited outside as the custom is here. The coffin was under an awning and you went up, sprinkled some water, took a remembrance card and then went and shook hands with the family. Mr B was there, looking absolutely distraught, and shaking like a leaf. The whole family looked numb. I was glad when they got him a chair. I was thinking about Mrs B, and how the whole process must have been such a relief at the end  for her, I could almost sense it. The Priest duly arrived and we all marched in. I had never seen such outspoken grief, nor it affecting someone so much. Continue reading


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An Austrian Funeral

This is one thing I never expected to be attending when we came here but when our neighbour passed away last week, we felt we had to support his widow in any way –  I was able to walk their dog and by being there at the church was a sort of official way too. I hope this account reads as respectful.

 Coming from a Protestant background, we were wondering just what would go on, so while praying for the widow, my writer’s eye was observing the tradition.  We arrived at the church to find a table set outside the memorial chapel with the Urn and small cards for people to take.  There was a line, nodding their heads at the table and then sprinkling the urn with Holy water, meantime a man was intoning prayers which sometimes the crowd joined in with.  The widow and relatives were there on one side and there were groups on each side – we worried that we were in the wrong one.  People were leaving candles and I’d seen a huge box of them in the widow’s house, a traditional way of respect and giving her a supply to place on the grave in the months to come. Then the bell tolled and we heard a drum beat as the Ramingstein men’s brotherhood marched up from the village below.  The Priest came out decked in black robes, more prayers and we then followed the Urn and relatives into the church.

 Being so shallow, we had wondered about what to wear, and the majority were in dark or black , but not necessarily suits. Dave had worn his and a tie which was his sign of respect, he hates wearing a suit.  The service began with the choir above us (we’d gone upstairs as  below was crowded) and their unaccompanied voices were the most beautiful  thing of the service – that there were a couple of songs praying to Mary I wasn’t so happy about as I don’t believe in this, I feel it un biblical, and why not just go straight to Jesus?  All part of Catholic tradition and history as I’ve heard the Maria thing was introduced to compensate for the loss of the major pagan goddess –hmmmmm!

 We did a lot of the getting up and down – at least this time we were able to see what to do, we’d been to a service once and had been at the front and not realised everyone else was sitting! There were readings and prayers which we sort of understood, only the family took communion and there was a collection. I couldn’t help noticing that each person dropped their money in with a loud clink – was it just coincidence or to show how generous each was?  Then at the end the Priest came out with the incense which always makes Dave cough, in fact a lot of people began to cough as processed through  the church.  A procession then left to the war memorial in the lane where what must be the Austrian equivalent of the last post was played, then with an about turn we all walked down through the village and then up the hill to the graveyard. Some funerals have a band but we marched quietly.

 In the Graveyard, Dave and I got on the wrong queue, as we found out, relatives one side, friends the other, so we had to move. Quietly orchestrating the whole deeply traditional service, installing a microphone and organising the urn carriers was the Funeral director, who though young had a really impressive air of dignity and respect about him, to me he epitomised  how Austrians combine old and new culture side by side – his hair was cut in a Mohican.

 Then the Urn was interned in the family grave.  It was so sad that this man’s father (who was in his 90s) had only been buried there a few weeks ago.  So some flowers were there already and around us the graves, so close after Aller Heiligen (All Saints) were bedecked in dried flower arrangements and the candles in red jars.  At the end of the ceremony I nearly leapt out of my skin as three canon shots rang across the valley in respect for the dead man. Then the friends queue went up and sprinkled the urn and some took the water and crossed themselves.  Dave and I were debating this, but as I had thrown a symbolic bunch of rosemary tied with baler twine on my mother’s grave (mother daughter thing), I had no problem so I went and prayed and waved the water about while Dave waited.  Then the relatives paid their respects. We then went to the local guest house and had the traditional funeral meal of soup with sausage and bread, and talked about things we remembered of the dead man, and surprisingly fruit trees – just a coincidence.  We actually met some neighbours from the end of our lane, who seem nice. Maybe Austrians are just as reticent as the English can be, after all we’ve been here four and half years and not met!

Then with hugs we left the now exhausted widow, and I hope over the coming weeks and months, apart from uplifting her in prayer we can be there for her.  I can’t imagine what she’s feeling.