Mum’s funeral was, as these things go, not a sombre affair. Temporarily lacking a vicar one of the lay readers, and a friend of Mum’s stood in for the service. He did a great job at keeping things relatively light, and there were no Holy Spigot moments (particularly impressive for an ‘amateur’ doing only his second funeral).
I’m not much for public speaking, but it turns out that the crowd is willing to cut you a lot of slack on such occasions, so I was able to ramble without notes for a few minutes. That means I can’t report exactly what I said, but it went something like this:
When Mum was in hospital there was often something that needed to be done, whether it was a bed change, injection or whatever. Her standard response to being told about these, especially as communication became increasingly difficult for her, was to say “right”. I’m sure that the nurses took that as a pretty normal response, and of course it was. But it meant more than that.
‘Right’ meant that there was something else to be done. That could be as routine as making me breakfast, or doing the ironing, or one of the other hundred things she did to look after me. But it could just as easily mean she had to go to Brownies, or some outing for the old folks, or a PTA event, or any number of other charitable events. ‘Right’ meant that she could stay in her chair by the fire and watch TV, but there was something to be done, and if she didn’t do it then it might not get done.
That was the story for as long as I knew Mum. She was never involved in anything that would change the world, and indeed it’s unlikely she ever turned around the life of a single person. But she made a thousand people’s lives just that little bit better. That seems to me like a pretty good way to have spent a life.