Struggling to get to grips with yesterday’s funeral. A terribly sad and disturbing farewell to my Mum. None of it felt real somehow.
Experienced through a filter of denial, it was like viewing a strange movie of which I was a distant spectator, watching it all unreel, artificial, unable to grasp that this was really happening. But, oh so sadly, it was.
Only ten people were allowed to attend, due to the Coronavirus restrictions, but a few people stood outside the Crematorium, listening to the service on loudspeakers. Even this seemed somehow surreal.
I had chosen two pieces of music to be played at the service, but they were faded out fairly quickly due to the 20 minute limitation on the whole event. The first piece was one of my Mum’s favourite tunes, Freddy Gardner’s recording of ‘Body And Soul’, a wonderful saxophone piece with full orchestra accompaniment. It was very special to my Mum because my Father played it when she first met him. He based his style on Freddy Gardner’s. It’s also the first recording I ever remember hearing as an infant.
The second piece, played at the end of the service, was ‘A Dream For Ian,’ one of my own tunes, written for my late brother when he passed away in 2006. Mum said that she was always moved by the piece whenever I played it at the Nelsonica events. It seemed fitting because she had loved Ian so much and the recording was a way of bringing Mum, Ian, me and Ian’s children together in some nebulous way.
It was a humanitarian service with no religious overtones. Just a brief dialogue encapsulating the main points of her life, read by a man who had the job of being the celebrant. Although he had never met my Mum, he gave a sincere testimony, based on the information he had been given by Julian and myself. Under the circumstances, it was the best that could be done.
At the end of the service, I stood before Mum’s coffin, adorned with the beautiful flower arrangements that Emi had lovingly created in the preceding days. I’d printed out and framed a photograph of Mum, a photo’ of her from around the time when she became pregnant with me. The photo’, in its frame, stood on the coffin as we filed out of the crematorium into a bright, sunny day. The contrast between the bright, warm weather and the dark sadness in my heart was profound.
The few family members stood in the car park, unable to hug or come close due to the social distancing rules, but, nevertheless, trying to communicate something, anything, about Mum and themselves.
I always feel like an outsider at such times, unable to open up and emote. I don’t know whether it’s because I feel inadequate or simply because I’m something of a loner. Or maybe I want to appear ‘in control’ of my emotions and not show my feelings. My music has always been the true outlet for my emotional and intellectual life, but I guess that’s a poor substitute for the real thing.
These things bother me far more than others might realise. I’m not very good at small talk, or maybe the shyness of my childhood has never really left me. My brother Ian, on the other hand, was always far more adept at socialising than me, a talent which I envied. He was always able to put people at ease.
There were two people who stood outside the crematorium during the service who couldn’t gain entrance due to the restrictions. One was Susan Quinn, the wife of my late and much missed friend Allan Quinn, and the other was Wendy, (originally Wendy Morgan...I’m afraid I don’t know her married name.)
Wendy is the daughter of a couple who were good friends of my Mum and Dad in the ‘50s and early ‘60s and Wendy said she always thought of my Mum as ‘Aunty Jean’, even though she wasn’t her real Aunt.
Wendy lived near my parents house on Eastmoor, back in those long ago days. I have fond memories of visits to their house but had lost touch over the years, until more recently when we had bumped into Wendy and her own family whilst taking my Mum shopping to a supermarket in Wakefield. Wendy was tearful and upset about my mother’s passing but I was pleased to know that Mum had made such a warm impact on Wendy’s life.
And here, I must pause this journal entry as it’s late and I’m exhausted after a day of ups and downs, plus the aftermath of yesterday’s funeral...I’ll attempt to continue tomorrow.