It was my mother’s funeral yesterday – five weeks after my dad’s. It was another long day, but it was such a memorable day. A day with a beautiful ceremony involving all of her children and all of her grandchildren. I know my mum would have been so proud of everyone. We all spoke and listened and thought. We cried. We laughed. We struggled. And we celebrated. We helped each other and we held each other.
It felt like my mum was with us there all of the day…watching over us, caring for us and loving every minute. Saying goodbye to us, telling us one last time that she loved us and that we would be all right…whilst at the same time we were saying goodbye to her and telling her we all love her. Telling her how much we miss her, but making sure we let her know we were happy that somewhere somehow she and my dad are together again.
Yesterday also felt like a moment of change…of transfer. With both of my parents now gone, it is just us. It is only us. It is us. It is all of us. It is all of us together.
Our experience since the start of this year has brought us all together. Family was always such a strong focus for mum and dad and of their life. Inevitably – and in some ways I think because of that example from our parents – the four of us children have focused so much on our own families. My mum and dad recognised this, and have been organising and hosting a family reunion at least once a year every year for years. These events provided opportunity for us all to get together…to catch up in person and to share stories.
And now, at the end, they managed together to make this reunion happen again. Over these last few weeks, the family – the children, husbands, wives, grandchildren, partners…their family – have come together to help and support each other. We have been there for each other when we needed each other most. We have spent emotional time together at a time of great emotions.
And when I think about these past few weeks, one of my strongest memories is of the stories we have told to each other as we have come together. Stories about us, about Mum and Dad, about Grandma and Grandad, about our families and about our lives. We have laughed and we have cried. We have remembered many moments that we had long since forgotten. Holidays, birthdays, parties, weddings, births, deaths and reunions.
These stories are precious. I realised yesterday that my sisters, brother and I are telling stories to our children about our own childhood and our family – stories our children had never heard before (as well as some of course they have). And telling them stories about their grandparents, how and when and where they met, fell in love, got married and became parents.
These stories are real – stories that make me smile, or laugh, or cry. The memories are true. The feelings they create are genuine.
Every time I heard a story about my mum this weekend, I could see her clearly, smiling at me, laughing and happy. Every time I told a story about my mum and my dad, I could see them together, happy and in love.
These stories are our memories of our parents. We know them and we love them. They are always there. They are who we are and why we are here. They will never go away and they will never end.
They are everlasting…