Today we finished off what mum's funeral 7 months ago hadn't quite finished. We laid her to rest in the South Downs she loved. Rather than scatter her ashes randomly to the winds, we had selected the beautiful little graveyard of St Andrew's Church in the hamlet of West Stoke, near Kingley Vale and its fine old Yew forest where we used to go walking, Lavant House School where she once taught, and the lanes where we often cycled and picked blackberries.
It was kind of unofficial - the church is CofE, mum was RC - but the priest, Father Charles, who had a naval background and looked like Cap'n Birdseye, agreed to the digging of a small hole a few paces from the church's Saxon walls. It had been raining all morning, and we'd had to negotiate flooded roads on the way, but as the little ceremony began the rain stopped. We gathered together around the hole, the priest said a few words, Andrew too, then we tipped mum's ashes into the hole. Alyssa & Naomi placed two posies of flowers from mum's garden on either side and then a very lovely thing happened: a butterfly came from nowhere and settled on one and then the other. I've got to say, I was quite choked...
Here's what Andrew said:
Here we are, probably for the last time, all together, to say goodbye to Mum.
This is where Mum wanted to be, with a view of her beloved South Downs and Chichester which she made the family home for 55 years and many more to come when David, Liz and family move in.
Mum had little to play with, especially after Dad died, but managed to create an environment which enabled us all to make the best of our talents. She was always positive with her encouragement, advice and assistance in enabling us to plan our futures.
We have all been lucky to have a Mum who has taken a keen interest in our partners and offspring, always remembering the correct names even if Tigger did feature quite strongly at times.
Thank you to Father Charles who has kindly allowed a Roman Catholic to share this consecrated ground and give Mum her desired resting place.
We then drove to The Royal Oak near Chilgrove in the Downs, for a pub lunch before going back to Mum's house for a final pack & tidy. It was strange leaving the house, now looking clean, empty, neutral & almost modern, but still very much Mum's, for what will probably be quite some time. But good to know that we will be back...