On the Sunday morning after Kath's death I went to sit with her coffin, as she and I had done with my father's in 1985, before it was taken away for cremation. I made up some flowers from our garden and our neighbour's, and I took along a number of photos of her in her prime.
Several people said they might come, but in the event no-one made it, so it was just me and the funeral director - and the music from "Simply Worship II". It was better that way because it helped me to retain my composure.
Her coffin was closed, and the man asked me if I would like it opened but I said "no". I'd said my farewell to her body in early hours of the morning before and now all I wanted to do was try and remember her as she used to be. The array of photos on the coffin was a start towards getting my mind back to my real mother. Ten years is a long time.
This was my farewell:
I have come today to say farewell and pay my respects to your earthly body before it is returned to the cycle of creation. You don't need this body anymore because you now have a beautiful spiritual body, without pain or blemish, and you are flying with the angels and souls in God's kingdom. May the joy and peace of God which passeth all understanding, surround you for eternity, and may you live in the house of the Lord forever."
The following Friday we had an afternoon tea for Kath at the hospital. It was a wonderful exchange of support and reminiscences. I took the photos along because I knew most of the staff had only ever seen her as a fragile little lady whose mind was gone. I told them about her past - her skill with figures and accounts, the positions she'd held in different companies and the help she had been to both my dad and me with house building and managing the land and the stock.
They were amazed, at the photos especially. In return I got some valuable reminiscences about her. The bulding manager recalled my father being admitted there in one of the crises of his illness. He remembered driving my dad's Fiat X19 with my mom as a passenger (she couldn't drive) down to the village to do some errands. He made the point how very friendly and lady-like she was. I loved that. She came from a good family and she knew how to behave and how to treat people right. I hope some of that rubbed off on me - it's been a dying quality in the world lately.
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