A few weeks ago some very dear family friends of mine all congregated at the Commonwork Farm in Kent to cook for the open day there. They have been doing this annually for many years now but in 2013 it gained particular significance. Our friend Gilpin, who used to be the head chef there, passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly of cancer. We were all left with a little less laughter in our lives. Gilpin was larger than life. We still have a lot of fun together, but we miss his presence keenly.
A few months after his death the open day gave us all the opportunity to come together and say our goodbyes in an informal way in a place that Gilpin loved and where he was loved. Against the backdrop of bucolic English countryside – rolling hills, wild flowers and the smell of cut grass – we looked on as his wife, Gayle, trudged up and down over a neatly ploughed field scattering his ashes with the help of a ladle she had borrowed from the Commonwork kitchen (unbeknown to the new head chef). She read a goodbye poem to Gilpin and we all laughed and cried and sang and laughed some more. It was sad, it was funny, it was moving and it felt utterly appropriate.