This is the text of the eulogy I gave for our Mum on the day of her funeral, May 13th 2013.
This could be the hardest thing I have ever done, to stand here before you now saying my goodbyes to our Mum.
I say “our” Mum, rather than “my Mum”, not only because she belongs to all of us, to all the brothers and sisters here today, to our children and grandchildren, and to our Dad, but also because that is how we always spoke of her, as “our Mum.”
It’s a Birmingham expression. We never talk in the singular in Brum, but always in the plural. So it’s “our Mum” and “our Dad” and “our house” and “our family”. It’s a generous way of talking and it includes all of you here today, even those who are not related and for whom Mum was a more recent friend.
Shall I tell you what it was about our Mum? She never grew old. I remember her saying, only a year or two ago, that she was always surprised when she looked in the mirror, to see that old lady looking back at her, because she didn’t feel like an old lady at all. She said she felt just the same as she always felt, when she was a little girl growing up in Birmingham, under the ever watchful eye of her beloved father, Arthur.
This last year has been very hard for our family. We’ve watched our Mum go from the peak of health to someone who was, finally, bed bound and helpless, incapable of doing anything for herself.
For this reason I say that, while we can’t help but grieve, we should not be sad.
Mum is glad not to be on this Earth any more. She is glad to have escaped the pain. She hated what had become of her body. She hated the humiliation of it. In the end she only wanted to be free. In the end, it is the best gift that we can give her that we let her go.
The last few days with her were a privilege, however. She was at home, which is where she wanted to be. She was pretty well unconscious most of the time, but she did wake up occasionally, and I know that she knew where she was, and it was this fact that gave her the strength to move on.
The day before she died there was a sudden storm as I was driving round to see her. It was really dramatic. The rain burst from the heavens in a veritable deluge, while, at the same time, the sun came out, and, turning the corner into Downs avenue there wasn’t just one rainbow, but two, one above the other right over our Mum’s house. It was the first time I’d ever seen a double rainbow. And then, later that day, there was the most beautiful sunset over the Isle of Sheppey, like someone had set the sky on fire.
Mum always used to say that that was her view. Whenever we got to the top of the hill and looked out on the estuary below, she would say, “how do you like my view?”
So I’m going to say, and no one is going to tell me otherwise, that Mum had arranged that for me, that sunset and that rainbow. It is how I will always remember her. She chose her moment, in a glory of light and colour, like the light that she gave to all of us, which will live now forever in our hearts.