My Mum died at the end of January this year, quite suddenly, with pneumonia after a period in hospital for a broken hip operation.
Nothing to do with cookery, I know, but I wanted to pay my respects to my Mum by writing down the speech that I made during her requiem mass on Monday of this week.
Thank you for coming today – to start with, and to get a flavour of what my Mum was about, I would simply like to list the things that she liked and disliked.
Her Dislikes :
Her Likes :
When my Mum died 2 weeks ago I was in Paris, as I have been for the last 6 years or so. I got the phone call from my brother Nick, a pretty brief call, him sounding exhausted emotionally and me not knowing quite what I felt. I think that we wanted to be alone with our thoughts.
I was suddenly confronted with the reality of the distance that I’d created between my Mum and I – telephone communication with Mum had been, for a number of years, frustrating and unsatisfactory, lacking in any real contact / content. Instead of getting upset about the lack of real contact with my Mum, I took the option of creating an emotional distance between us. My trips to Newcastle to see my parents were always double-edged – delighted to be home and with my Mum and Dad again, but also very concerned about how my Mum would be and never really at ease.
My first question for my Dad whenever ringing my parents would always be “How’s Mum ?”.
So, when my Mum died, there were a whole mix of emotions – deep sadness with a certain amount of relief. But I certainly didn’t want to leave it at that – despite creating a distance between Mum and I, I knew that she deserved to be remembered in a much more positive way.
As a result, these last 2 weeks I’ve spent a lot of time talking about Mum with my Dad, mainly, and with my brothers Nick and Adam, Sonia (Nick’s wife) and my wife – trying to create a contact with my Mum again, to rebuild the positive images of this incredible woman. I have also read the many deeply felt wishes of sympathy from the numerous people who were touched by Mum during her relatively short life.
Out of all of these exchanges, are a multitude of stories and anecdotes, but more importantly, a number of characteristics that shine through time and again.
Over and above these key characteristics, whenever I think of my Mum, I invariably think of Dad as well. The “couple“. I think that it’s pretty fair to say that over the last 10 years or so, Mum and Dad have been almost a single entity, in “fusion”, inseparable. However, often people can make the mistake of thinking that Dad has been a great chap putting up with and looking after Mum. What a great support he has been and how wearing that must have been on Dad.
Well, even if recently Dad has been giving most of the physical support, Mum has for many, many years played a pivotal role in this family, giving support to all of us, none more so than to my Dad.
To close this brief hommage to my Mum, I would like to say to Mum that you live on in us, even if physically you will no longer accompany us in our many adventures over the next 10, 20, 30….years. As far as I am concerned, she has passed on her loyalty and her unconditional love to me, as well as the capacity to “feel” emotions and sense things very quickly – even if I don’t always know how to interpret the feelings straight-away or at all, sometimes.
So, as my Mum and Dad would say to one another every night before turing to go to sleep, regardless of the events of that day…..
“Good night, God bless and sleep tight”.
Je t’aime Maman.