My Mother's eulogy (94)

If you have read the site fully you will know of the difficulties my adolescence involved. Recently my mother died and she was cremated on 11th June 2010.

Below is the eulogy I prepared. I was allowed only four minutes at the chapel as is the busy cycle of death these days. the speech mixes some elements of this belief system Buddho-Darwinism. It is also an attempt to convey to relatives and friends the loss I and my brother began to feel when I was 14 years old.


I have travelled abroad a lot on my annual holiday conservation trips, with the MOD and as a feral teenager, …………but ……………..I never found anything edible quite as wonderful as mum's custard tart tasted to me.

My childhood is full of such happy memories, wanting to come home to such wonders as:
Picnics on Sundays after church or a lovely roast dinner of brisket slow cooked to perfection. Ice creams on the beach at Ainsdale near Liverpool.

Dainty Fairy cakes and the sweetest apple tarts I ever tasted. Table Spoons of malt, Delrosa hip syrup and Haliborange Vit C tablets to keep us healthy.
On top of those were Memorable Holidays caravanning or bed and breakfasting in Scotland, and others adventures in Scarborough, North Wales and Guernsey ,
The happy memories came abruptly to an end at the age of about 14 for me and for Chris, (two and a half years older than that), I effectively lost my mother.

Such illnesses can be quite frightening and there was a TV reality programme this week with a girl joining a family in a remote part of Turkey. Her mother had been bipolar – and she had got angry, as I have, over the injustice of it and the impossibility of normality and she had become almost feral as I did for a while.

The crumb of comfort is that there are many others in similar circumstances who do the same thing. One is not alone in not fulfilling everybody’s expectations. It is sometimes reassuring for clients of the Samaritans, where I put in shifts, to realise others have similar problems and we should not live in fear of ourselves.

BUT BACK to MUM’s attributes

In the years that followed I would occasionally see moments when my mother did grasp and hold for a moment her old delightful self.

For example, a few years ago now, mum visited Bath and we went to the theatre. The play starred Ronnie Corbett and at one point he was mistaken as the clothes designer and thus had a young well-endowed lady in a bustier insisting he take her measurements. This was played perfectly by Ronnie as he usually does and when I looked to my right mum was almost in tears, creased up at the genius of humour she was watching. Her sense of humour is something that many who met her found entertaining and I know she did say she had harboured ambitions to be an actress when younger.

Another time rather than be ashamed or embarrassed mum took it like water off a duck’s back when she walked down a hill in St Peter’s Port, no doubt with many looking at her rather oddly, thinking she was talking to us, when in fact Dad, Chris and I had stopped at a window father up the hill. She was quite bemused when she realised
One of her favourite pastimes was watching the wrestling men in their leotards on Saturday afternoon Television. MUM WAS ALWAYS UP FOR LETTING MEN BE MEN.

Strong and wilful come to mind as qualities of mum.
I have studied some parts of Buddhism recently. The eastern Tantric mystery portrays the perfected male as compassionate and the perfected female as a vessel of wisdom.  As a naïve child I did not fully appreciate when mum displayed strength and wisdom, but in later life, having met people that it was pointless arguing with, I have come to understand her wisdom, for instance in telling socialist canvassers, who she would have long disagreed with and door step salesmen who would never take no for an answer, "Not to day thank-you” - through the glass front door - almost embarrassing for a naive child to observe, but wise in fact.

I recently visited Downe House near Biggin Hill, the home of Charles Darwin for many years. Darwin was a man of reason, like my dad and Emma his wife was a woman of faith, much like mum. Together they had many happy years much as mum and dad and tragedies hit them too, like Darwin’s favourite daughter dying, but the overall impression is of something unlike many other families experienced in those days, a tolerant affectionate father and his caring wife, raising a happy brood.

Happiness then appears to be something more elusive than faith and more difficult than quantum mechanics to explain or evolution to discover, it is about relationships and how those relationships can foster environments in which happiness can exist.

Mum contributed greatly to the happiness of our home, just as Emma Darwin did for her home and for such quiet strength in mum and in other women we should be grateful, even if it cannot be with us always.



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