The readings were well-chosen and well-read; the homage to Gloria’s life was exceptionally well-written and spoken, Richard deserving huge amounts of credit, and it was well-attended. But funerals are never easy. I’ve been to a fair few in not only a private capacity but in a professional capacity, too. Even for the guys in the black cars it can be difficult and a professional detachment has to be built and maintained. Damp eyes are always present, grief pulling hard on the ropes it wraps around a chest.
This funeral was different. Sure, there were a few damp eyes, but very few; there was also an air of melancholy and shared loss. But – that’s a big word – but there was also a huge amount of relief and respect for a talented woman who expressed love and concern for all in her charge and who she loved. Her life-story revealed numerous challenges that were faced and overcome, not just from being widowed with a young son, but also a life spent dedicated to giving others a better chance at life and living. Those wishing to pay their respects – and I believe that is _really_ what the mourners were doing – filled the church.
That love and respect showed in the reception afterwards. There were the numerous small groups of friends, associates and families but there was more mixing than at other receptions I have seen; there was more open talk, laughter and smiles, and the complex family – from long-dead husband, her own family and from our family – showed a love and care for each other that, frankly, ‘did her proud’. Gloria would have been delighted to see those present and delighted at the love shown.
For many, like us, our farewells were made years ago, when she stopped recognising us and was forced to retreat into the wrappings of Alzheimer. Perhaps this meant that we were only completing the mourning, finishing it, tying it off. But I think there was more than that: my children just knew her as another grandmother, as did my neices and nephews. There was no recognition of a step- relationship and with all the distance the prefix implies: it was just saying goodbye to a long-loved and enjoyed Nanna. The self-effacing gentleness of her living came through and spread itself amongst us all.
She would have been delighted whilst serving us all plenty of biscuits, cake and tea whilst encouraging us all to play the piano or read. I could not do the former but I had brought some books in the car to read to my grandson. So I gave them to my eldest and my eldest neice to read to him. He loved it and, though he cannot remember meeting her, I felt that in some way he honoured her memory and service and commitment along with us. It was a a funeral full of love.
Just as all such funerals ought to be.