On Monday 24th July 2017 we said ta-ra to my mum, ‘Mombat’ to many of you out there in Internet Land. Here’s a brief thing about what turned out to be a very moving and celebratory day. As our three-car cortege left her house we passed her regular postman, Andy. He would regularly pop in and make sure Mum was alright, and she loved to give him mints. As we passed he stood and saluted in an emotional tribute, bless him.
“Blimey, she wasn’t half heavy”
The chapel at Poulton New Cemetery is small, and beautiful. My nephews, tall as the clouds, helped bear the coffin in to the strains of Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”, Mum’s favourite song. I don’t know how many the tiny chapel seats, but plenty of folk were left standing at the back as celebrant Jonathan Worthington began the service. Mum’s favourites, G-Line, had provided a coach to bring people to the service, since there was so little parking there, with Mum’s regular seat 3 left empty save for a picture of her, a simple gesture that touched my heart. Jonathan did us proud, taking us through Mum’s life, and including plenty of anecdotes to pay tribute to her humour as well as the song ‘Unforgettable’, which by crikey, she was. Mum had always told us that “if she went first”, she wanted bright colours and no religion, and Jonathan got it spot on. My sister Julie gave her own personal talk, and sang ‘Sunrise, Sunset’ with close friend Bernie, who called Mum ’Aunty Mum’. Brought a tear to my eye, so it did.
“Bye Mum, say hello to Dad for us”
After poems and more tributes, we moved out to the graveside accompanied by Andy Williams singing ‘Moon River’. Mum’s plot is between a Muriel and a Betty, so I reckon she’ll be alright for gossip. The pale sun hid behind a white veil as we held a short ceremony, including the poem ‘Do Not Stand at my Grave and Weep’ which brought more tears to my eyes. I was amazed at how deep the grave was. We dropped pink carnations (which Dad used to buy Mum regularly) after the coffin, each saying our own goodbye. I noticed Kit kiss her carnation before letting it fall.
“I don’t want a sit down meal, I want a bloody buffet”
Cars and coach ferried us across town for the wake. At the Golf Club, large screens were showing a slideshow of photos from throughout Mum’s life, and a banner announced ‘Jeanne’s Jolly Send Off’. A memory tree slowly grew leaves as people wrote their Mum memories and tied them on. Mum’s favourite singer, Eryl, had travelled up from Wales, and sang a selection of songs beautifully. Her rendition of ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ had my eyes rimmed with tears again. Mostly, though, we had a right good knees-up, with Eryl leading Mum’s friend May (who had travelled from Llandudno by taxi) and assorted ladies in a dance. Sod it, even I danced – blame the Bailey’s. And it was wonderful to meet Auntie Janet and John again, whom I haven’t seen for about five hundred years, and be reminded by Bernie of the flat I lived in at University back in the last century, where spaghetti hung from the ceiling.
“No, Nay, Never”
As the wake wound up and we said goodbye to the kind people who had come along, we hard-core family hied us away to my sister’s sunny, green garden, where we chatted and laughed and sang many songs. Mum would have loved it.