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A Shout From The Attic: Work -15

...A strong faith is of great comfort. As Joseph Smith said, “While we weep, we do not weep as those without hope.” Religion had taken over my life and infused it with new meanings. I took it seriously, reinterpreting life and myself in new ways...

Ronnie Bray continues his autobiography.

The branch members variously received news of my enlistment. In any event, military service was inevitable, and I should have had to go in another five or six months anyway. Kath Crowther’s brother, Peter, was my age. He enlisted shortly after I did. He went into the Fleet Air Arm, becoming an airframe engineer, and served for many years.

When Peter’s marriage broke up, he wandered lost and lonely for many years, not keeping in touch with his family which was a source of constant anxiety to them. One Saturday, many years later, when I was going to the London Temple, Kath asked me to put Peter’s name on the prayer roll, which was not then a common practice in the United Kingdom. I added his name, and the following Thursday he walked unannounced and unexpected into his parent’s home in Kirkheaton.

He was never active in the Church again, but married a girl from his village, Kirkheaton, started a new family, and became a leader in his local branch of the British Legion. He was a gifted pianist, a good man, and a loyal friend.

Kath had another brother, Billy, who joined the merchant navy. He was lost overboard one New Year’s Day. The Huddersfield Sea Cadet Corps held a service of remembrance for him at the rear of their quarters on Old Leeds Road in which a wreath was placed on the canal in a brief but touching ceremony.

There is a double sadness in such a loss. One’s mind can never discover exactly what happened, and that gives reign to imagining all kinds of terrible things, as if the loss itself was not terrible enough. There is something of comfort in knowing where the beloved is resting. A grave is a focal point for grief: a place of pilgrimage where remembrance of times past, and present hopes can be fused.

Moreover, while this does not abolish grief, it does lessen it. There is some satisfaction from being able to visit such a place that is not available when the resting place of the lost one is unknown. Humanity’s fears tend towards the worst, as expressed in Wordsworth’s The Affliction of Margaret.

A strong faith is of great comfort. As Joseph Smith said, “While we weep, we do not weep as those without hope.” Religion had taken over my life and infused it with new meanings. I took it seriously, reinterpreting life and myself in new ways. I do not mean that I was perfect, or even a good example. I was still being made. Dennis Livesey once remarked of me at this period that I was “struggling to grow up,” and he was right.

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