No, it’s not a contest…it’s the other kind of “giveaway.”
I have dear, dear friends in Wales. They live in the outskirts of Cardiff. We became friends because their middle (and, later, their younger) son came to the US to coach soccer—specifically, my son’s team. He landed in our guest bedroom, and he became party of our family.
When he married a girl from here, his family came over for the wedding. Their arrival added a dimension to my life for which I am eternally grateful. They are true, wonderful friends, and we could go years without face-to-face contact and remain almost family.
They have stayed with us perhaps half a dozen times. Their sons had the unmitigated gall to move to the next state, so when they come to the US now, I do not see them. I have yet to visit Wales, but have absolutely no doubt of my welcome should my ship come in and I be able to afford the trip and the time from home. (I’m counting on the lottery…we’ll see).
I love the stories of Wales. British folks out there, you are our kindred. We are the same—only slightly different. My friends and I used to have wonderful times (much wine) laughing at our slight differences…same language, different dialect, as it were.
I love these folks, dearly, and writing about them brings tears to my eyes. But, I digress: V and I talked the other day about a story of my friend W, the wife of this couple, and V thought I should share it with you. I am going to—not only because I love the story, but because it has dredged up such warm memories of my times with my friends.
One of the things I loved about W was the fact that when she traveled to America for a special occasion (wedding, baptism, etc/) she was sure to bring a fancy hat. In Wales, apparently, women still wear head adornment, and getting her hat (they were always large) here on the plane was a trick.
Although I would be entirely too self-conscious to wear one myself, I loved it. It is a feminine “marker,” something that we women can have (I mean, all women, perhaps, except for me) that men cannot. W brought over the most gorgeous hats, in just the right color to match whatever outfit she planned to wear the event (W has impeccable taste)
Apparently, the hats are not just for special occasions, but W actually wears them every Sunday when she attends church. And it is this mixture: hat + church, that give us a story.
The Welsh, as do all British, enjoy more visible symbols of a long history than do we Americans. W’s church, as I understand it, is in a building where a church has stood 900 years. 900 years!! The building, itself, as I recall, was built in 1836, the year my state attained statehood. This is not a true picture of her church, but is one I found that is in Wales.
In spite of the grandeur of having a church that is so old….on a plot of ground that has been dedicated to the sacred for so long…there are drawbacks. Like having no bathrooms.
Yes, it’s true. W told me that their little church, surrounded by a cemetery of God-only-knows-how many centuries, has no bathroom. It was, you see, built long before the thought of using an indoor “facility “ was entertained. Therefore, there is none. Apparently the authorities are reluctant to disturb such an historic building. It is still in its nearly two-hundred-year-old state. Which I think is fabulous except for the bathroom thing, which is becoming more and more important to me as I age…
W, and the other parishioners accommodate this nod to Yore by being certain that bladders are emptied before arriving at the church. All are on notice that this is an essential part of the Sunday morning ritual.
And, it was just such a day when her bladder failed her. Part way into the worship service, W realized that her pre-worship-time preparations were not going to see her through till the end of the service. Try as she may, the bladder would not stop its urgency. She whispered to D that she was going to walk back up the hill to home, she’d see him after the service. She tip-toed out the door.
As she turned on the sidewalk, she realized that she just was not going to make it. She cast her eyes around for a public bathroom,but there was none near—at least not near enough. She hit upon an idea: She’d find a spot in the cemetery behind one of those great big grave markers and, shielded from all view, she’d be able to take the necessary action…
She found just the spot. It was situated so that if she got behind the marker, no one from the road nor anyone from the church would be able to see her. Ahhhhh, relief!
Later, as they sat for Sunday dinner, D said, “Well, W, could you not have made it back to the house before relieving yourself?”
Astonished, she replied, “Whatever do you mean?”
Apparently the whole congregation had realized her predicament and its solution. Dave explained:
“Oh, you took great care to get behind a gravestone, but it looked like that great, big fancy hat of yours was resting atop it!. The whole congregation was amused to look out and see the gravestone wearing a fancy hat until they realized what was actually going on behind that stone…quite distracting”
Artist’s rendering of what it must have looked like:
I have laughed and laughed at W over that and, good sport that she is, she herself told met the story!
But hats: don’t you love them? (One just must remember to make allowances…) C