Thursday, 24 September 2015
I think funerals are normally a little quicker but we are getting there, it is scheduled for this coming Tuesday. I think it is going to be a fairly busy event too - 90, maybe even 100 or so people which is a pretty good turnout for an 84 year old, the last in her family, most of whose friends live miles away. Not that I'm surprised of course, Mum made great friends and everyone loves Dad and wants to support him
My sister and I have made most of the arrangements with lots of help from my brother and his wife and my Dad of course. He has been amazing, so strong. Endless phone calls to friends and family, talking about his feelings and Mum's preferences.
We started off going for a crematorium service and committal. This then changed (on discovering that the music would be canned) to a church service followed by a crematorium committal with close family. Dad then slept on it (actually he said he barely slept a wink) and thought about what Mum had wanted (even though it wasn't really what he wanted). So, all change in the morning and now we're on a church service in lovely Coleby Church followed by a burial in the cemetary at the bottom of the village with a wake at the local pub we have been going to for decades. It is the right choice but funny how it evolved like that over 24 hours!
My niece and nephew are each reading a short poem (one was my choice - "Success" by Ralph Waldo Emerson). My sister, brother and I are sharing the eulogy which is going to be hard but has GOT to be done. I haven't worked out what I'm going to say yet although have lots of thoughts jotted down. My eldest niece Liz is determined to sing during the ceremony. I wouldn't have the guts but she is adamant that she want to do it and she has done a lot of public performing so fingers crossed she will manage it without breaking down. I doubt I'll make it through the hymns to be honest.
We've gone for "Tell out my soul" (my favourite and my sister's); "Oh Lord, my God (how sweet thou art)" (chosen by the nieces) and "The day thou gavest us, Lord, has ended" (Dad's nod to tradition). Some proper tearjerkers there....gulp.
I'm sorting the flowers, both the spray to go on top of the coffin and in the church and have decided to go with my gut. Mum was not a pale "English" sort of woman. She always looked best in bright colours and I think of (and inherited) her love for the African flowers from our gardens in Kano, northern Nigeria where we lived for so long.
So I've not chosen pretty creams, pinks and purples but gone for lush green foliage and brights reds, pinks and oranges in bold tropical blooms with an African theme - proteas, leucadendrons, pinheads, deep red calla lilies and amaryllis. I'm taking more of the same to the church on Saturday and a collection of village ladies who knew my mum are going to help me deck it out in suitably tropical style. The florist and the village ladies are all excited by the different style I've gone for and have been so kind and keen to do this for Mum and the family.
We've prepared some cork boards of photographs from Mum's life going right back to her Grimsby back garden as a child in the early 1930s. I found pics of her looking drop dead gorgeous aged 17 in short shorts on a beach holiday with her friend Nadine who is going to be at the funeral. Some amazing pics of their first tour in Nigeria in 1955 - the mud hut they lived in, her in a cool 1950's frock with a giant python draped around her neck, one showing her with a sheep, captioned "Mary had a little lamb, which made good chop" (chop being food!).
So, as you can tell, we have been busy. It hasn't really been very sad. Sad moments, yes but many good times looking back over her loving and loved life.
We were up in Newcastle yesterday and today for a match (which Wednesday won!) and had a great time. It had been booked and paid for weeks ago so we decided still to go and I'm so glad we did. We went shopping before catching the train home this lunchtime and found a couple of dresses which I can choose from for the funeral. I shed a few tears after buying them, thinking about how happy Mum would have been at the fantastic sale bargains I'd picked up and also just because I felt happy while buying something to wear for my Mum's funeral. A strange contradiction. A big hug from Rich in the store and then onwards.....
That's how it's going to be I think - good times, with the odd sad, emotional moments.