The trouble with moving into middle-age and beyond (and as I'll be 54 in March, I can't be described as anything other than middle-aged) is that the number of funerals you attend seems to increase exponentially.
Counting the scattering of my dad's ashes three weeks ago, I've attended four since mid-October. Two were of a married couple, longstanding friends of ours from church and work (sadly, they died within days of each other and the last time I saw the lady alive was at her husband's funeral, an occasion she was determined to attend) and the latest was of a Catholic priest who served our parish for ten years and who died of pancreatic cancer, the same ugly disease which killed my father.
The priest's funeral was held this week in St Albans in Hertfordshire, obviously a decent distance from Warrillow Towers even if I was fit and healthy. But a delegation from our parish were hiring a minibus to make the journey and Mrs Warrior and I wanted to be among them.
Father Tom Hewitt did a lot of us in the early years of our marriage and played a key role in my decision to be received into the Catholic Church. I felt it was the least I could do to pay my last respects. Yet the service was due to begin at 10am on Wednesday. Leaving sufficient time for the delights of the M1 in the rush hour (and what turned out to be ceaseless heavy rain) meant leaving Tamworth at 7am - which meant a 5am alarm call.
Mrs Warrior spent the few days leading up to Wednesday talking about being asleep by 7pm on Tuesday. I knew that wouldn't happen and it didn't. Suffice to say that I couldn't tell you how bad the M1 traffic was on Wednesday morning, because I fell asleep within minutes of the journey starting and woke up three hours later as the minibus pulled into the church. Sometimes, there are benefits to being able to sleep anywhere at any time because of stroke-fatigue.
The funeral service was unforgettable. There must have been 30 priests present from Fr Tom's religious order and if you go for elaborate 'candles-and-incense' funerals, as I do, there is nothing quite like a priest's funeral.
I could have done without the well-meaning and completely unsuspecting friend going into the gory details of pancreatic cancer so soon after seeing what it did to Mr Warrior senior, but the rest of the day was memorable. The Tamworth contingent were invited to a three-course lunch with Fr Tom's family and all the priests which surely tried the patience of our driver, whose timetable was knocked off course as surely as if he had been ferrying a coach full of drunken football fans.
I slept again through much of the three-hour journey home and forced myself into a really early night, as I had to help run a networking breakfast on Thursday morning. It was a daunting schedule and in my state of health, one I should keep to an absolute minimum. Thankfully, the few days since Wednesday have been quiet and I am committed to only one two-hour event in the coming week. The rest is for rest, as it were.
After all, I keep having friends tell me they would rather not attend my funeral just yet - elaborate or not.