We all had to meet in the Club car park for 3 pm.
We were a little early so went inside and Sis was putting the finishing touches to everything. She asked if I’d seen Mum and I mentioned the stuffed dog keeping watch. Apparently she’d taken a shine to it so it had gone with her to the Home and into hospital.
I had a chance to look at the pile of sympathy cards which Sis had received and recognised a lot of names. It also made me realise that all of Mum’s friends I remember as a child had passed away before her.
My niece, the one who had got married in July, had done a collage of Mum from all the family photographs she could find. It was edged with roses and butterflies.
This is only a third of it, and we are all in there, including Dad, plus babies and dogs from all generations. This cropped part was in the centre and the picture on the right that of Mum’s 90th birthday in 2012 and the cake made for her at the ladies group she attended at the time.
Both of my nieces were handing out single roses or red carnations for final tributes after the service. Mum so loved her flowers, and Dad had always (bar once when he had no spare money) given her two dozen red carnations on their wedding anniversary.
The weather was kind as six of us got into the limousine behind the hearse.
I noticed several people in their cars as we pulled out of the car park bow their head in respect.
The crematorium has not changed much since Dad’s passing. I used to take Mum there on their wedding anniversary, his birthday, Father’s Day or the anniversary of losing him when we lived locally. Mum and I would sit on the bench by ‘Dad’s tree’ and reminisce about silly things, serious things, and happy memories of a husband and father, a man we both loved and missed terribly.
Services were running late so we were shown into one of the reception areas to wait our turn. I noticed a lady standing by herself who I didn’t recognise, so went over and introduced myself. It was one of the care staff from the Home who I had spoken to several times on the phone, and she had also read my letters to Mum. It was nice to put a face to a voice, and she said that everyone had a soft spot for Mum and were sorry at her passing.
Sis had asked for the larger of the two chapels, thinking it was the same one we had for Dad. I was introduced to the Vicar performing the service as Sis had contacted me earlier in the week to ask if I’d like to read one of my poems she’d found in an old exercise book that Mum had kept.
As we went in, I could hear Robson and Jerome singing their version of Unchained Melody. I can remember Mum saying she liked it and I’d bought her the cassette many years ago. It made me smile again. Mum had a way of saying ‘I like it!’ in such a way that I always interpreted it as ‘I’d like it please’ and if I could afford it, it was hers.
There was an Order of Service on each seat, with a photo of Mum on the front and the one we all have of Mum and Dad on their Silver Wedding Anniversary in 1975 on the back.
Mum had chosen Abide with Me and The Lord’s my Shepherd as her hymns. They were traditional familiar tunes so I was confident to sing, and I did, strong and clear.
I read my poem in between hymns and after the Eulogy and another short prayer, Gerry and the Pacemakers (and unofficially me) sang You’ll Never Walk Alone as we laid our single flowers in goodbye as we left.
The family tribute was beautiful and full of colour. There were six others, from Mum’s brother, my sister’s two daughters and their families, my Dad’s sister, a cousin who was the daughter of one of Mum’s late brothers, and one which surprised me from OB’s ex wife and her new partner.
I made a point of thanking the Funeral Director, our drivers, the Vicar and neighbours who had come to the service. It was so very Mum, not a lot of fuss, and everyone there was someone who had known her personally.
There was a buffet laid on at the Club and OB thanked everyone for coming. It was a modest attendance, again just as Mum would have wanted it.
We all had a happy memory of her so there were plenty of smiles to share. As for Sis and I?
We were two sisters mourning the loss of our Mum.
Hubby and I had to leave early and I was given a box of things which I haven’t looked into yet. I have Mum’s sewing machine and her mother’s cameo brooch, but the pocket watch I was promised belonging to Dad is absent. Sis said there was no mention of it in The Will, just a watch, so she said she’d put in the one Mum always wore.