It’s mum’s funeral. Bill does the religious stuff, then calls upon me to read the Eulogy. I’ve decided to write a letter to mum

Dear Mum

Just a few words to say how much I miss you, how much we all miss you. This though, shouldn’t be a time to dwell on death, but celebrate life, so, thanks for life, for the life you led, and the life you gave . Obviously without you, I wouldn’t be here but also, I wouldn’t be what I am.

I remember, back when you had breast cancer, we sat around drinking endless cups of tea and talking about life, the way you brought up me and Sandy, singlehanded, and how as a mum, you had always done what you did « for the best ». This was the time I read you that Philip Larkin poem « This Be The Verse. » which became your favourite poem

“They fuck you up, your mum and dad

They may not mean to, but they do

They fill you with the faults they had

And add some extra, just for you.”

 You liked that, you said that it summed up parenting skills

 As a person, and as a mum, you were unique, and if you did f*** me up, then I’m glad you did. I’m very happy

I don’t think that life dealt you an easy hand – just when you should have been laying the foundations of your own life, you were struck down with TB, and later, Dad was taken from you suddenly, after barely ten years of married life. He left you with two young sons and you just had to get on with life.

From an early age, I learned that as my mum you were not quite like other mums. You had your own « inimitable style » and you never left anyone indifferent. All throughout, you taught me one thing, dare to be different. Find and cultivate your own identity, be yourself and above all, be happy. Not always easy, and near impossible when I was a kid, but the upbringing you gave equipped me with the tools and the know-how to build a happy life. 

So, as you embark on the last part of life’s great journey, I’d like to dwell on the « journeys » that you gave me – all those summer camping holidays in France – perhaps that was where I got the francophile bug – every summer cramming ourselves bag and bagage into our crappy little Renault and driving off to discover the world. Looking back, they were awful holidays, but I really enjoyed them. They were good times

And with your death, has come the greatest ever journey – a voyage of discovery – the self discovery that comes with dealing with the mechanics of death. I have coped, and that’s all down to the way you made me in the first place.

So, mum, thanks for the life you gave me.Thanks for the good times.Thanks for the bad times.The laughter.The tears. The sacrifices you made.Thanks for all the faults you gave me. Thanks for f***ing me up,  I wouldn’t have had it any other way.Thanks mum.

All the best

Your loving son.


And with that, I fold up the letter, put it back in the envelope and place it on mum’s coffin.  All the time I was travelling round France as a teenager, she used to complain that I never wrote to her.

“It’s my hard-earned money that pays for your galavanting round France, you could at least send me a postcard,”

Well, for only the second time in my life, I wrote mum a letter today – you see, the one other time I did write to her from my hols she got suspicious and worried.

“Why are you sending me letters?” she asked. “Is something wrong?”

Ah mum’s, they are never happy.

Wednesday October 27th 2010

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