A Very Special Lady (Day 184)
Weird to include this on our Grown Up Traveller's blog - however this is part of life. A lovely day remembering a Very Special Lady - my Mum.
What a very special day we have had. It did start with a bit of a blip. Tim had packed the car, John was in the driver’s seat and I was crossing the road. All I could hear was click…click…click. The little blue Toyota had a flat battery. No jump leads in the boot. Simon had no jump leads, Tim asked their neighbours – no jump leads – a lesson there for sure! A quick decision was made, we’d go in Jac’s car. Phew!
Arriving at Billericay Baptist Church, Dawn and Martin were already there and a hive of activity commenced. Cakes being sliced, table laid, plates and napkins matched. Gradually people started to arrive with much hugging and kind words were said.
It was time. We sat in the front row and music was playing. The pallbearers carried the coffin and placed this on the stand. A beautiful wicker basket with yellow trim and the freesia display on top. Mum would have approved. Ian, the Pastor welcomed everyone, before us standing up and singing “All Things Bright and Beautiful”. I remember before the Dementia got hold of Mum that she was Bright and Beautiful. Dawn and I then went up to the front to share memories of our Mum on behalf of the family.
I went first. I looked around the room. It was full. How amazing! Here is a lady who has been in a Care Home for 6.5 years, and even before that was out of action, yet so many friends and family had come to say their goodbyes to Doreen and pay respect for her life. As well as family and extended family and friends of our parents since we were little girls, there were people she worked with at the Doctors Surgery (it must have been years since she’s worked there), from the church, from Lions Club, which Dad belonged to, neighbours and from the Care Home. I really was overcome by the number of people who had come to give their respects to this very special lady.
I read out the memories from the first half of her life that us sisters had recollected, there was laughter from the congregation as I shared some funny incidence, then Dawn continued the memories to her later life. We are lucky that both of us are used to speaking in front of a number of people. Nerves do not affect us. I thought it lovely that the audience clapped after we’d both finished our tributes. Does that usually happen?
Another hymn – Love Divine. This was sung at our parent’s wedding and our dear Dad’s funeral. Then two very special ladies walked up to the stage. Val and June both know Mum from church and have visited her every week since she had been in the Care Home. Every Week. Val shared stories of holidays with our parents, hooting with laughter; how Mum organised trips to Thursford each year for a popular Christmas show. She organised the coach, the stop-off lunch and after a few years, the waiting list. Then June had the task of talking about her days in the Care Home. That was the moment when I started to cry. I hadn’t cried at all till then. The memory of how she suffered for so many years, her discomfort, pain and anguish were too much to bear. John, our youngest put his hand on mine. Just thinking about it is setting me off again. Yet that’s OK. My Mum’s suffering has stopped. Her body is no more, yet her spirit lives on. Maybe a cliché, but true.
Ian, the Pastor gave a very fitting service – full of love and celebration of the life of this special lady. After the last hymn Morning has Broken, a blessing was given, the coffin removed and then….a little surprise for the audience….
The curtains were closed, Simon had the projector ready and……”If you go down to the Woods today, You’re in for a big surprise….” Yes – it was a hilarious 1950s puppet version of The Teddy Bears’ Picnic. Mum would have creased up with laughter. Yet, after the first minute and realising we had another 2 to go….oh dear!
We all went for our own picnic in the next room. I’d made some cucumber sandwiches in the morning, other savouries from Marks and Spencer’s, scones, cream and jam plus slices of cake. People from the church brought round teas and coffees and it was lovely going around chatting with so many people. Our lovely family friends Dave and Jenny, who I have known since I was a little girl were there. We all adore them. We had such a laugh reminiscing about old times. Mind you, when our son George at the age of 3 gave Dave Chickenpox – which appeared when he was on holiday in New York, probably causing an epidemic of this virus in the USA – not so funny!
It was time for us to go to the Crematorium, a quick lovely service with Ian again, the right version of Edelweiss being played. Then onto Dawn’s, where we all tucked into fish and chips. It is so lovely spending time with my sisters and our families. So much bantering and laughter. And I can just imagine our Mum, sitting there quietly soaking up the love and joy and relishing in watching her family altogether…she is a very special lady.