Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The Funeral

We all awoke about 8am on the thursday morning.  Paul Tatum was still there with his boys, so they were all able to play together till Oscar and Ethan had to leave for school.  We had a lazy morning round the Tatum's, the boys played and watched tv.   We gave them an early lunch at 11.30, then started getting them ready, before we got ourselves ready.

Paul T arrived home about 12, and we headed round to Lee's about 1.15.  Melissa, Natasha, Dominic, Laura (Dom's wife) and Owen (baby) were already there.  The cars were due at 1.45.  The Pedley's (Mike, Marie, Lottie and Milly) arrived shortly after 1.30.  The cars arrived, and Lee, Marie, myself, Isaac and Oliver got in the first one, with the others in the second one.  Seeing the coffin in the first hearse with the flowers was very hard, and tears began to well up.  We took a slow drive out of Lee's road, then headed towards Easthampstead, where the funeral was taking place.  Isaac kept the tears from coming for me, with his lovely chatter and questions.  

We took a slow drive from the main road up to the cemetery.  There were loads of people ouside waiting.  Close relatives on one side of the drive, friends and colleagues on the other. There were lots of people.  We all got out of the cars.  The boys went and said a quick hello to the Goslings, nanny, grandad, Jenny and Tony.  The main crowd filed in. The casket was carried in by the men from the funeral directors.  Close family followed in behind.  As soon as we got to the row at the front, by the casket, Sebastian burst into tears.  The emotion was too much for him.  I didn't think a three year old would understand, but he seemed to.  

The rector began with a prayer, before Mike began with his tribute.  The night before mum died, mike and her had got together to write the tribute.  It was beautiful, exactly what she wanted.  We then sang 'The Lords My Shepard'.  It was then my turn.  I knew I would be speaking, but only wrote it the night before the funeral.  I also had a couple of poems mum and I had picked out.  The first one, I had to miss, as it was being said at the graveside.  So I began.....

My mum and I have nearly always had a good relationship.  We have had our ups and downs, disagreed, fallen out, but we have always made it up.  Usually over a few beers.  She was so happy when I met Paul, and subsequently moved to Essex with him.  We got married 3 years later, with my mum and Lee getting married 7 months after.  They got married on my mums 50th birthday.  My mum was so happy when she found out she was going to be a grandma.  She wasn't so happy with my request for her to be in the delivery room, but she went with my wishes, and was pleased to be the third person to hold Oliver.  
Mum was happy to look after Oliver when Isaac was born. She was also happy to be on call for when Sebastian was born.  Good job too, as she made a mad dash to look after Isaac at VERY short notice.  Again, she was one of the first to see her grandchild.  She played a big part in her grandchildren's lives, and I will always be grateful for that help, be it financially, babysitting, or just being there.  
And that is what I will miss the most.  Ok, I have been living in America for the last 2 years, but we have been in touch frequently.  Mum came to visit us last Easter, and had a great time.  We visited a coastal island in Georgia where we saw dolphins just off shore and toured Fort Pulaski which played a big part in the American Civil War.  Mum loved the history side of it.
My mum was so looking forward to her retirement.  She had grand plans to come for Christmas, and quite a few weeks after. She had every intention of going to France this summer, and staying as long as she could. 
Unfortunately, her illness did not allow for this.  Her time in France was cut short, and her illness affected her very quickly.  I am so sad to see her go, but glad she did not suffer long.  I was fortunate enough to come and see her 3 weeks ago. I fully expected the worst, yet she looked much better than I thought she would. I feel privileged to have been able to spend six days in her company.  Saying goodbye was probably one of the hardest things I have err had to do.  But I am glad I got to do it face to face.  Going back to my life after spending time with my mum was hard, but necessary. Getting the phone call of the news of her passing was awful.  Knowing I will never be able to pick up the phone and speak to her again makes me so sad.  
Last week we went out for a local event, and had a meal beforehand.  I saw these 2 older couples come in.  I couldn't help thinking to myself ' My mum will never be able to do that', and that makes me sad.  Since being an adult, and maybe as a child, I have always wanted my parents to be proud of me.  I know my mum thought I was doing an awesome job of being a mum.  But I would always call her if I needed advice.  I can't do that anymore.  She was immensely proud of me  doing my degree in later life.  I am 4 months away from finishing, and it makes me sad to know that she will never see me graduate.  I know she will be looking down on me with great admiration.  But its not the same.
I'm gonna miss you mum....

I was so caught up in the emotion, and trying not to cry, that I forgot the second poem.  My tribute ended with 'The Frog Chorus' by Paul McCartney.  This was one of my favorite songs growing up, and I have many memories of my mum and I dancing around the house.

My Uncle Robert then read from John 14, a beautiful piece, which my mum would have loved.  We the listened to one of her favorite hymns, 'Lead, Kindly Light' before conclude with 'The Lord's Prayer'.  The funeral directors then carried the casket out, while 'Wind Beneath My Wings' by Bette Midler played.  Then the tears flowed.  We walked down to the cars crying our eyes out.  The boys went to the Goslings, while we began the walk to the graveside.

The rector spoke a few words, then I read the poem 'Miss Me, But Let Me Go'. This was one of the poems I had wanted to read, so I felt honored to be able to do this for my mum.  There was then Psalm 121, followed by the Prayer of Committal ad my mum was lowered into the ground.  My mum had requested 'The Soldier' by Rupert Brooke to be read at the graveside.  Marie read it beautifully.    Millie and Lottie then stepped forward with a basket of beautiful white roses to be laid in the casket.  The girls were dressed in their school uniforms, looking smart.  Mum would have loved this little touch.  We all took turns in laying flowers in the grave.  All family and close friends were able to say their goodbyes this way.  There were even enough for some of her pupils to lay some in.  Mum would have loved this, and a big thank you to Marie for arranging this.

We said a quick hello to family members, before heading on to the wake.


The wake was held at a local pub.  It was so lovely to see so many people turn out for mum.  She would have loved it.  There was good chatter all round.  Lots of friends, family, colleagues and pupils new and old, all come out to share memories and love of my mum.  

Paul took the boys home around 7.  The Tatum's helped with the bed time.  A big thank you to them, we could not have managed this without them.  So many people did so much for us, and my mum.  Words cannot describe how thankful I am to all that helped any way they could.

Paul came back and got me at 9pm.  I was taken home, and put straight to bed.  It had been a long, emotional day......

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