Anne (ajva) wrote,

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The send-off

I've only been to four funerals, but (although this may sound a little odd) that one was by far the best.

There were personal touches: my cousin Laura designed and printed the Order of Service; Stef suggested he could do the floral arrangement himself using flowers from my parents' garden, so on the morning of the funeral I helped him fashion a saltire from bluebells and hawthorn flowers; the committal of my mother's coffin was done to a soundtrack of Trust in Me by Melisma (not my idea - although I had to leap in and insist that the tune used was not Hear Me, as my Dad requested - he has a tendency to listen to the singing but not the words, bless him, and a song about paranoid schizophrenia where a voice enjoins the protagonist to kill herself would perhaps have been not quite appropriate to the occasion).

The minister, a very nice good-humoured lady, conducted a lovely service and gave a wonderful tribute that focused on my mother's intelligence, thoughtfulness and sense of fun.

I gave my reading as if it were a lecture; I kept it together by distracting myself with favourite comedy moments, which I had written on the inside front cover of my newly-bought paperback copy of Unweaving the Rainbow: badger with a gun, Dom Joly's mobile phone man (Yeah... yeah I'm at a funeral...yeah, yeah...yeah, everyone's really miserable...yeah and the music's shit, too...) etc. etc. I finished by telling the congregation to cheer up, for goodness sake (yes, I actually said that), as we had been so lucky that my Mum had been born in the first place, and for us to know her luckier still*. My dad then stood up and gave a very moving tribute. He included a lot of humour and then ended on a very poignant note at which he nearly cracked up:

"Goodnight sweet princess, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest..."

Afterwards, I met my mother's bridesmaids for the first time, which was wonderful as I had heard so much about them from my Mum. One of the two in particular - Elizabeth Allen as was, or Liz Thomas MBE as now is - I got on with exceptionally well, and was delighted when she unashamedly came out at our table as a strong atheist. Delighted, because I knew that my reading would have been worth the effort not just for me and my Dad, but for my mother's old best friend too. I'm going to email her.

I thought of many of you too, imagined you minding an imaginary machine called a wibbleometer, and that when the readings were getting into the red zone the cry would go up to poke me with sticks, which many of you would then run over and do. Cheers.

Glad to be back in London; see you all soon, hopefully.

A. xxx

*For the record, my exact words were: "So cheer up, for goodness sake! The birth of Margery Connell in the first place was a stratospheric unlikelihood. And yet it happened, and she was there, and we knew her. And it was...fabulous."
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