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Published: October 12th 2014
Santiago De Compostela Saturday 11 October 2014 - Brian's Day
Today has been a tough day. We woke as the sun was rising at 9.00am in La Coruna and I thought I hadn't talked to my sister Sheryl for several weeks so I called. My sister-in-law Kerry answered Sheryl's phone who handed the phone to Sheryl. She said Brian has died. I thought she meant Kerry's Dad who has been sick but no, it was her husband, my lovely brother-in-law Brian. I could not believe it and couldn't mentally process it.
Brian who was 70, was mowing in his tractor and must have had a massive heart attack and died instantly. He was slumped over the steering wheel with the tractor motor still going. Tom & I can't believe it. We are so far away. Thank goodness Sheryl is part of a very, very close family, with lots of friends. We immediately thought not only of Sheryl, but Toni and Ben and the 6 beautiful grand children who all loved their Pa.
My next thought was how can I get home back to Australia quickly. We were at least 2 days drive away from Madrid and the flights
were 36 plus hours to Adelaide and we lose a day going back to Australia so wouldn't get to Adelaide until late Thursday. This is when we find out the world in a big place.
Tom & I then drove 80kms to Santiago De Compostela, mostly in thinking-silence, arriving at lunch time, with both of us slowly processing the news. Over lunch we chatted about Brian and Sheryl and all the fantastic times we have had with them both. Brian was a good bloke and we loved him so much.
Tom & I then just went through the motions of being a tourist, trying to turn our minds to what the Tourist Office suggested that we should see in this historic town. Brian and Sheryl were never far from our minds.
We wondered and thought and thought some more.
We saw many, many hikers walking around the old town's narrow streets which of course reminded us that this was the end of an important pilgrimage path that even today, 1000s of people join in groups to make this 700km pilgrimage. Santiago de Compostela was originally founded by the Suebi in the early 400s, as part of
the collapse of the Roman Empire. Raided from 711 to 739 by the Arabs, Santiago de Compostela was finally conquered by the Visigothic king of Asturias in 754, about 60 years before the identification of remains as those of Saint James the Great, and their acceptance as such by the Pope and Charlemagne, during the reign of Alfonso II of Asturias. Certainly, the remains were found in the small and close town of Iria Flavia, but they were moved to Santiago according to political and religious reasons. From then on, this settlement was not just a city, but a holy city, and one of the main centres of Christian pilgrimage.
Praza do Obradoiro is the heart of the city, and it's named after the workshop of the stonemasons that was established during the construction of the Cathedral. This is the arrival point of thousands of pilgrims every day, from the "Way of St James" which is located just in the centre of this square.
We spoke to several people who had completed the pilgrimage and they were elated through their achievements, and some were spiritually 'invigorated'. We again reflected on Brian's life, who had a strong
Christian faith, and made his own and different 'pilgrimage' throughout his 70 years. We will really miss him.
We saw the silver tabernacle with St James' remains in the cathedral. This cathedral is the biggest in Spain and dates back the Roman days.
We also did a rooftop tour of the Cathedral which offered wonderful views of the old town. The tour guide was a very expressive and informative Spanish lady with excellent English.
It was 7.00pm after the tour so we decided to go and have a beer, toasting to Brian. xxx
Today our thoughts are with Sheryl, Toni and Ben and families. I hope they don't mind me doing my blog this way, but it is helping me process this, particularly being so far away and not being able to give my sister a big hug.
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