4 April 2011

For My Mother


My eulogy read for Mom today:

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Barbara,

Barb to my Dad,

Mom to me, Nicola and Stewart,

Nanny to Justin, Ellen, Baris, Shakira, Holly and Jack

As you all know, Mom had suffered various health problems these last 8 years that made life difficult and painful for her and robbed her of her mobility and independence but the Barbara, the Mom, I remember and will always remember with love, is the fun, energetic and sometimes, embarrassing one.

  • The Mom who used to hang off the door between the kitchen and the living room doing chimpanzee impersonations.

  • The Mom who could roll those big and beautiful brown eyes round and around like no other person

  • Or for example, when I was 6 and broke my nose at school. No telephone at home or with neighbours in Bonner Grove in those days and so Mrs Bickley, the Head, a stern, strict, no nonsense sort of steely grey haired woman, had to bring me home, blood gushing from my nose, in her brand new little blue mini. As we pulled up in front of the house Mom was on the front lawn playing football with the teenage lads from next door (I’m not sure where Nicola and Stewart were…napping maybe) I can still see Mom now, slim, small beehive hairdo,beige slacks and a white top, and Mrs Bickley saw this display and tutted, very, very loudly.

  • The Mom who headed straight for the Waltzers at the fairground and kept telling the young lad to keep pushing us faster and faster or who would never let me drive on the dodgems.

Mom was born in Erdington on 23rd April 1937, St George’s Day. She was always very proud that the flags flew on her birthday.

Mom was close to both of her parents and loved them dearly. They were her hero’s. She missed them both desperately after they died.

Although Mom spent her childhood years experiencing the austerity of WW2, she had a happy childhood and I could spend the next few hours retelling stories she told me about those years. But then I could spend the next few months retelling stories she had told me about everything!

Whilst looking for a photograph last week I came across some school reports that she had kept. They were tucked in with programmes for musical and choral concerts that she had sang in whilst still ay school, at places such as the Town Hall in Birmingham. I’ll just read a few comments:

  • 1948: A grades for every subject except Music, which surprised me somewhat, where she got a B. Comment “She is always bright and cheerful”

  • 1949: Excellent for Vocabulary.

“Excellent reading, very expressive and fluent. Art, Barbara has marked ability and should do well. Comment: She is extremely vivacious.”

  • 1951: Class position for English, 2nd out of 39, 2nd also for Domestic Science. 1st for spelling. Art, “Barbara’s work is very good.” Final comment: “She is developing into an attentive, well-mannered girl but she must learn to moderate her voice!”

These comments illustrate those things that Mom took pride in and that she did well; her spelling, her writing, and they also illustrate qualities that she carried with her throughout her life; good manners, cheerfulness, vivacity.

After leaving school Mom worked in many secretarial positions for various employers including Birlec and her last job at West Midlands Police. I remember her always leaving for work looking like a million dollars. But then Mom rarely looked anything other than a million dollars. Hair well cut and perfectly shaped, nails shaped and polished, make up carefully applied and lovely clothes. Always smart, always looking her best.

Many people have said to me in the last few weeks “Your Mom was a beautiful woman, on the inside as well as the outside.

Mom had her passions and interests. She loved nature and spent many happy hours gardening. She took pleasure in watching the passing of the seasons and would be the first to have spring daffodils in a vase in the house. She loved Daffs and she loved roses especially. She loved her holidays with Dad and when we were at home, with us too. She loved the sun and sitting in it and she always got a fabulous tan!

And there was her faith. I always knew Mom had religious faith but it wasn’t until she had gone that I realised how deep her faith was. Mom left a letter detailing exactly what she wanted today, the type of service, the reading, the hymns. The last sentence reads “Please don’t cry, just remember I’ll be with my Lord.

The church did play a big part in her life for very many years. She worshipped at Aldridge Parish Church and latterly, here at Pelsall. For Mom, worshipping her Lord meant singing and she sang in the choirs at both churches. She loved singing and she loved the choirs. Singing was a massive part of her life.

Mom was stubborn too! She knew her own mind, wasn’t scared of voicing her opinions and she was never scared of speaking out if she thought an injustice had been done. Mom was thoughtful and kind. She looked out for elderly and ill neighbours and friends, visiting them even when she herself was not well.

Mom was the first person I turned to when both of my babies were born and she gave both of them their first bath. I believe that to be true for Justin and Ellen too.

She was active in the local community also, being a founding secretary of a playgroup in Aldridge that still runs today and also secretary of the local liberals.

A few years ago, Mom’s brother, my Uncle, Allen wrote me a letter detailing memories he had of his sister from their youth. I would like to read you a few extracts.

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“I was born in 1945 by this time Barbara was eight and she has always reminded me that from day one she looked after me as a second mom.

I recall lying in bed one day when I was quite small and your mother was singing. She was always singing.

She had a collection of records. Nat King Cole, Dicky Valentine and others I can’t recall. She used to play them all the time. Barbara knew every word of every song. She would be sixteen or seventeen at this time. She was very good-looking, even beautiful. She had a lovely figure and a lovely outgoing personality. She would have been a joy to know.

Sunday was baking day. Cake, pastry, tarts, licking the mixing bowl, watching Mom and Barbara mixing, cutting baking and cooking the Sunday roast. The radio would be on all morning. The Sunday service would be on, loads of hymns for Barbara to sing to. The highlight was family favourites.

I recall Barbara singing every note of every song while she was baking.

Harry and Clara Wilkins were great pals to your Nan and Granddad. We used to see a lot of them.

Harry and Clara were aficionados of the clubs. We would all pack into Harry’s car and end up at one or other of what was the latest “in” place to be seen in. Aldridge, Rushall, Pelsall, labour, conservative, working men’s.

I would be about 10 at the time. Ruby Murray had the latest hit; “Softly, softly” Harry knew that Barbara could sing. He convinced her and the rest of the club that she wanted to sing and they wanted to listen. Up she went. I am not sure about the chap on the piano but your Mom, my sister and your children’s Nan, she was magnificent. As I am remembering this there are tears of pleasure in my eyes. Linda I was so proud. This was not just anyone, this was my sister singing “Softly, softly” as good as, no better than Ruby Murray, Barbara was my sister and just as good looking as Ruby.

After that there was no turning back. I am not sure how your Dad came on the scene, but certainly Harry knew him (as did everyone else in Aldridge).

I remember he was handsome, blond hair, strong, he knew everything there was to know. He was world wise, street wise, and he charmed his way into your Mom’s life and our lives. I think we all fell for him; he had true charisma. As a couple they were perfect. Both outgoing, both attractive and at their peak in every respect. They took your breath away. After a whirlwind romance they were married.”

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Thank you Uncle Allen. I treasure that letter.

Dad was a regular at the Labour Club in Aldridge and Mom had been taken there for her 20th Birthday on 23rd April 1957. Dad saw her singing there and was smitten. Just three months later they were married. Like all married couples they’ve had their ups and downs, but they managed nearly 54 years together only to be parted by Mom’s death. An incredible achievement.

When I asked Dad if there was any particular memory he wanted me to include in this eulogy or anything that he wanted me to say, he replied “ Just that I loved her”. And he did and does and always will, as we all will. We all loved her and we are all missing a giant Barbara sized piece in our lives. Larger than life and always singing.

I would like to finish with the poem printed in the back of your order of service sheets:

If I should go before the rest of you
Break not a flower
Nor inscribe a stone


Nor when I am gone
Speak in a Sunday voice
But be the usual selves
That I have known


Weep if you must
Parting is hell
But life goes on
So .... sing as well

Bet she’s singing God’s ears off right now. Hope so.

2 comments:

  1. Beautiful Linda, funny and moving. I hope that doing the eulogy gave you a sense of purpose in helping her loved ones achieve closure.

    Wishing you blessings, sweetie.
    x

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have to agree with Cahrlie. Wonderful.

    ReplyDelete