Fond Farewell

We now have a very emotional day behind us and it could not have gone any smoother; the weeks of planning a funeral that Mum deserved, paid off. When I first saw the hearse containing Mum’s coffin parked on the road outside Mum’s house , it took my breath away, even though it was covered in stunning floral displays : white roses from my sister and I and a stunning more colourful rose arrangement from Mum’s three sisters. Seven of us squeezed into the limousine, with Joshua firmly wedged between my husband and I, as we drove through Mum’s home town in the grey drizzle.

We were greeted by family at the Crematorium, so received bountiful hugs and kind wishes, before following the coffin into the chapel and being seated on the front row. The minister said some committal prayers but the service was beautifully personalised with a Sisters’ tribute of anecdotes about Mum, bravely read by our Aunt, which made us laugh and cry at the same time. At the end of the short service ,we climbed back into limousine, while the undertakers gathered up the flowers and a closeup photograph of Mum, and transported us all back to Mum’s church.

We were shown to our reserved front row seats, Joshua, my husband and myself sitting together, opposite my sister with her family. We began with a rousing hymn, Great is the Faithfulness, and I was immediately delighted that we had a full church , boosted with strong Methodist singers. The organ was beautifully accompanied by a violin soloist who we had organised, and she was behind us and Joshua was mesmorised by her playing. The minister gave a factual account of Mum’s life and then she kindly read the  personal tributes from myself and my sister, followed by moving reflections from my husband – whose anecdotes were from the heart and spontaneous – and a close friend from Church. It was incredibly moving to hear how well loved Mum was and how missed she will be, from a wide range of people.

That was rather a lot of talking for Joshua to sit through and so he struggled to sit nicely, and as I was inevitably crying, I received some kicks and smacks, as well as hugs. But it was with some relief that we moved onto our next hymn, How Great Thou Art, and we allowed Joshua some freedom to wander. He cruised across the front of the church, seeking out people that he knew; he hugged my sister and flicked the hair of his Nanna and his cousins, but always came running back to me for a hug. I found him a welcome distraction. But my husband then had to man-handle him in his seat, while my sister ,then I, made bible readings, clinging together for moral support. A poignant sermon was followed by a final hymn, Praise my Soul, accompanied by more of Joshua’s wanderings and hugs.

The violinist played beautifully again as we left the church and we had organised a buffet in the church hall, so we did not have to even step outside the rain to receive some delicious food. The Sunday school rooms were transformed by the caterer with tables decorated with jam jars of flowers and linen table cloths, and an extensive buffet. As the mourners queued for food, I stayed in the quieter foyer with Joshua where guests joined us to share memories of Mum and my husband and my cousin brought us plates of food that they had retrieved for us by breaking into the queue. Joshua greedily enjoyed some chips and mini quiches, followed by chocolate brownies. It was only at around 3 pm that we left church, as we had invited family back to Mum’s house for more tea and cake. The idea had been to allow them time to reflect in her garden, but as it was so wet, most people stayed indoors. My sister and I walked back from the church to Mum’s house together, each clutching two jam jars of sweet williams , to get some fresh air and to reflect quietly on how the day had gone so far. It was lovely to have Mum’s house buzzing with Aunts, Uncles and cousins.

When everyone had left around 5.30, there was just Joshua, my husband and my sister remaining and we were all exhausted. We loaded the dishwasher then all had a much-needed nap. After the busy-ness of the day, I was left with a crushing emptiness when I woke from my sleep. The reality of our loss could only then seep in, once the hustle and bustle of her funeral had passed. We now need to find a new way of living, without her physical presence, but for now I am delighted to say that we organised a funeral that Mum would have loved, and that is good enough for me.

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