Saying goodbye to Nan

Last Monday was the day of my Nans funeral, which was going to be interesting as I was using crutches all day. I can’t get my wheelchair around my Uncles place and only having to go from the funeral car into the crematorium and out again shouldn’t have been a problem. I was up at 05:00 to leave at 06:00 as we wanted to avoid the early Monday rush hour traffic. The journey was a quiet one both in terms of traffic and atmosphere. Me and Dad took our clothes down to change into so we were more comfortable while travelling.

We got to my uncles and had a fair bit of time before we had to get ready but it seemed all too soon before we were getting suited and booted. People were gathering at the house before the Hearse and Funeral car arrived. I was expecting it to arrive with these big flowers in it and a teeny tiny coffin lost under them. Obviously it wasn’t like that and the flowers were beautiful. May Cousin Jacquie had chosen the colour of our wreath, which was pink and yellow. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out but it looked lovely, great choice and stunningly put together. Mum and Uncle Colin’s was simple white with a lovely placing of the roses. Pat (Uncles partner) and her family provided the spry on top, which was made up with gorgeous lilies. Uncle Colin’s in-laws flowers were made up with beautiful deep purple Irises.

Me, Mum, Dad, Uncle Colin, Pat and Jacq went in the car while my other Cousin Rob drove ahead with his partner and the three Great Grandchildren. The journey to Southend Crematorium was the longest in history. I know they don’t drive fast but it just seemed to take forever and with a short wait up the drive, as we were a bit early, we pulled up to the door. My back at this point breathed a sigh of relief as we exited the car, which was lovely but not on my back. Jacqu’s Daughter had made the order of service leaflets which had a lovely photo of Nan with Mini Mouse on the front, from when she went to Disneyland on Holiday with them some time ago. On the back was a picture of Nan with Granddad sitting at the dining table raising a glass on one of their cruises. The Great Grandchildren were handing them out as we followed the coffin in. Talk about concentration on that walk as the last thing I wanted to do was embarrass myself by falling over, especially going up the steps. With a successful walk into the crematorium, to the hymn ‘The Day Thou Gavest lord Has Ended’ (The Choir of Abbey School, Tewksbury) I took my seat next to Jacq and the service began. The Vicar was excellent and after we had sung the classic hymn ‘Jerusalem’ he told my Nans story. Next he gave a reading call ‘Death is Nothing at All’ by Canon Henry Scott-Hall (see below). I had never heard this before but I really liked it and thought it was so fitting. I was doing fine at this point until we got to the Committal (where the curtain closes slowly round the coffin) and then I shed a few tears, after that I was composed and fine again. The song we chose to walk out to was ‘The Last Waltz’ by Engelbert Humperdinck, which was Nan and Granddads favourite song. I remember them having and listening to the record when I stayed with them. Full concentration came again for the walk outside, which thankfully went off without a hitch. There wasn’t that many people at the funeral as she had outlived her two sisters, most of Granddads family, her friends and many of the older neighbours. Three neighbours did make it and a long-term friend of ours thanks to Pats sons for driving them there. It was a shame her best friend couldn’t be there as she had moved away and her son was too ill to take her. I sat in the front of the funeral car on the way back, which I found easier on my back than the journey there. I have to admit I was talking to the driver about the Mercedes car we were travelling in some of the way back.

Now, Nan and Granddad used to have the odd tot of Whisky with either Ginger Ale or Ginger Wine. I can always remember this little shot glass that Granddad used to give me when I was little that had what I thought was the same as them. Of course there was no Whisky in there really I just had some Ginger Ale and Ginger Wine but I didn’t know the difference. When we got back to Uncle Colin’s it seemed a shame not to toast them so he made me a Whisky and Ginger Ale. I’d just had my medication including Oxynorm and he’d made it that strong it was like rocket fuel, to my surprise though I didn’t feel as bad as I thought I would. Another surprise of the day was that I found out one of my Cousins Cousins from the other side of their family followed my blog. I was surprised because although we know one another from family gatherings etc. we don’t know one another that well. As regular readers know I really value the support of people who read the blog. It’s another person I can turn too in my thoughts, when I’m feeling a bit low I think of all the people who are following the blog and supporting me. I have to lift myself up and move on, not just for me but for them too.

I have to admit that the next day I had some hip and leg pain but that’s to be expected as it hardly ever gets a work out. Although I had some back pain too considering all we did in that day it was far less than I expected. The best thing that happened were the amazing comments from everyone on how smart I looked and how proud Nan would have been. That was all I wanted, to make her proud on that day and if people reckon she would have been proud then that’s good enough for me. The good thing is that she was not just proud of me but all of us, she just didn’t always know how to show it. From her children, us Grandchildren and her Great Grandchildren she talked about all of us and our achievements. I don’t know if Nan & Granddad are up there somewhere but if they are I hope they’re drinking a Whisky & Ginger Ale and their Last Waltz lasts forever.

Nan liked military music and she used to sit in my lounge for ages with me and listen to all sort, from the pipes and drums (good taste Nan) to the massed bands. I couldn’t find the exact versions of the Hymns from the funeral so I have some different renditions by military bands, which are just as nice. I have to say the Honley Male Voice Choir sing Jerusalem much better than we did.

The Day Thou Gavest Lord Is Ended & Sunset – The Royal Air Force Association Presidents Band

The Day Thou Gavest Lord Is Ended – Royal Scots Dragoon Guards

Jerusalem – The Honley Male Voice Choir & The Band of HM Royal Marines

Jerusalem – The Band of HM Royal Marines

The Last Waltz – Engelbert Humperdinck

Death is Nothing at All

Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.

All is well.

Henry Scott Holland

2 Responses to “Saying goodbye to Nan”

  1. I have never came across that reading ‘Death Is Nothing at All’. I really like it, I might even consider stealing it if you don’t mind.

    Glad it seemed to all go as well as possible.

    • Blimey, you are constantly robbing me! Only joking, steal away Steven and I’m glad you liked it too. Yes, consider the circumstances the day went very well and Nan will be forever in our hearts :)

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