Coming back to the UK was strange as it was about a year sooner than I thought I would be going back and as it was not planned and under sad circumstances it wasn’t exactly a pleasant trip.
We managed to get flights from Washington to Glasgow via London Heathrow, leaving here at 6.00p.m. on Saturday evening (11 p.m. UK time) and arriving in Glasgow at 10.00a.m UK (5.00a.m. US time). Despite being overnight neither of us managed to get any sleep. We were just in economy class so there was no leg room or side room to move around. I just sat as still as possible and managed to watch a movie (I love you man) and read some of my book (Number Ten Sue Townsend). Despite all this the journey seemed to pass quite quickly and we had arrived in Glasgow before we knew it. I felt like I was in a dream as I just wasn’t prepared to be there. My sister met us at the airport to drive us back to hers where we were staying. It was lovely to see her and my 3 nephews and 1 niece again. Children always help you to keep going and take your mind of things as at their age they don’t realize fully what is going on around them and just want to play and make noise, so you get sucked into it yourself and end up having some moments of fun and noise as well. My sister said that Kyle, Amy and Owen had all seemed to acknowledge that their Gran had died and had talked about it to her and at school but that she was a wee bit worried about Greg as he hadn’t mentioned it once. Well I walked in a got my usual kisses and cuddles from them and the first thing Greg said to me was “Gran is dead”. Well my sister was relieved (in some way) that he had eventually acknowledged it although it did make me cuddle him even harder when he said this to me. Sunday disappeared in discussions about the funeral arrangements, playing with the kids and having a nice Sunday roast dinner together.
On Monday, my sister and I had to go down to the nursing home to clear out the personal effects from mums’ room. It also gave us something to do while the kids were at school and nursery. We decided to pack up all the clothes and give them to charity. My Mother liked to dress well and was always very well turned out and didn’t scrimp on her clothes, even near the end, so there will be a few gems turning up in the local charity shops from her clothes (and shoe) collection. I don’t see any point in being sentimental about possessions like clothes, they are only objects anyway! After we had cleared out the room and said goodbye to all the nursing staff (it didn’t help when one of the staff took a sharp intake of breath and exclaimed when she saw me as I look/looked so much like my Mother!) we went to the Funeral Directors place. My sister wanted to visit the coffin one last time. I was not sure at this point as I had never done this before – I decided against it with my dad as I wanted to remember him as a live healthy man and not the shell that was left of him at the end. Anyway, once we got there I decided to go in see the open coffin with my sister. I panicked a bit as we went in and lost my composure but we just held onto each other for a bit and said our goodbyes. I have been haunted by the vision in my dreams a bit since then but I am glad that I did go in as my Mother looked peaceful and just looked asleep (which is partly leading my dreams) certainly more peaceful than she has for the last year since she has had to wear an oxygen mask all the time.
Jarlath had gone into his Glasgow office that day to meet with some people and do some work and in the evening he made an appointment with the residents in our house in Troon. So he took a trip down to the coast and met with them as well as a surprise visit to our old neighbours Elsie and David. It would have been lovely to see them myself under different circumstances. Our tenants seem to be a nice quiet couple and the house is fairly empty of furniture as they are used to living in Military accommodation so don’t have a lot of furniture themselves. They seemed really happy with the house and local area and hinted that they may want to stay for a couple more years (the original contract is for one). This would be great for us if we had it rented out to the same tenants the whole time before we have to decide whether we are returning or staying in America.
Tuesday was the day of the funeral and the sun was shining nice and brightly. The kids were dispatched to school – I did the breakfast and then we all had to get ready for the funeral. The car was picking us up at 10.30a.m. to get to the church for 10.45a.m. then onto the Crematorium for 11.30a.m. and finally back to The Burnside Hotel for tea and sandwiches. The standard Williamson funeral package I am afraid.
The church service went very well. The Minister that took the service has been with the church over 20 years and this was actually his last week before retiring so it was quite apt that he was around to take the service rather than have a complete stranger do it. My Mother has been at Croftfoot Parish church since she was a girl. She was christened there, married there, had her daughters christened there and funerals for both her parents and her husband there, so there is a lot of emotion in that church for our family. My mother was one of the first ever woman elders ordained at the church in November 1975 and my Father was an elder so they were both very involved in the running of the church as well.
I decided that I was going to do one of the readings as it was a reading that meant a lot to my mum and there was no-one else my sister and I wanted to read it. My Mother had chosen it for my Father’s funeral as well. I was very nervous about doing it because, obviously, emotions were high. I managed it, not very well, but I managed it!
Here are the words, they make me cry even just copying them onto here:
Death is nothing at all
Death is nothing at all,I have only slipped awayinto 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 waywhich you always used,put no difference in your tone,wear no forced airof solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughedat the little jokes we shared together.Let my name ever bethe household word that it always was.Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of a shadow on it.
Life means allthat it ever meant.It is the same as it ever was.There is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mindbecause I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you,for an interval, somewhere very near,just around the corner.
All is well
I chose the hymn Amazing Grace as I just love it and my sister chose the hymn How Great Thou art because that is her favourite.
The Eulogy was written and read by our cousin David Smith. David was a consultant at the Victoria hospital in Glasgow and does a lot of work for Tactent, a church cancer charity. He did a wonderful job of the eulogy as he is very eloquent and even held his composure very well when he mentioned Granny Williamson, my Fathers mum, his Gran. It is always interesting to hear stories of your parents life as somehow you don’t always appreciate that they were young once with their own hopes and dreams that didn’t revolve around you as their children. Whatever my relationship was with my Mother I must always thank her for bringing me into the world, whether I make a positive effect on it or not is another story but without her, well I wouldn’t even be here. I know I am very like her and perhaps she wasn’t the most tactile of Mothers in her time but well I don’t think I turned out too bad – no comments on that please, lol!
Well onto the crematorium and the hardest part for me is when the Minister finishes his words and prayers and you can just see him pressing the button to start the machinery rolling to take the coffin down to be cremated. I always panic at that point as if I should somehow stop it and save the person in the coffin. Luckily I had Jar with me and poor Jar got his hand kneaded to bits as I tried to keep my composure.
My sister and I then lined up outside to greet everyone that had made it. I always come across as very cold on these occasions as I can’t seem to show my emotions in public and am The Ice Queen whereas everyone around me is weeping and wailing, even Jar. I guess I just go into my own coping mode which is to keep my composure and try and help everyone around me. I don’t think either way is right or wrong just whatever works for you.
It was lovely to be able to talk to everyone back at the hotel over tea and sandwiches. My good friends Irish Sharon and Mad Margaret were there and we had a nice chat and catch up. My first husband John was there and we had a nice chat and catch up as well. I was so grateful to him for making the effort to come along from the church to the hotel, it really meant a lot to me for him to do this when he had no obligation to do so. He got married in April this year and has a wee 3 year old boy so life seems happy for him, as all he wanted from life was a happy marriage and a child of his own – which I couldn’t provide – so I am glad to see him with all his hearts desires.
I extended many invitations to friends and relatives to come and visit us in the US and I think a few will take us up on it.
I don’t like writing anything negative about this day but I was honestly shocked by the behavior of two people who I counted as members of my family on my sister’s side. I started to go into detail when writing my blog but decided that there is no point. They will not figure in my life now because of their behavior although this will make some family affairs at my sisters rather awkward. One of the people I can give some understanding to as she is young (23) and doesn’t understand when someone is trying to look out for their best interests and will believe anything they want to believe in the name of love. I still maintain that it is not good for a 23 year old to get into a relationship with a 43 year old, twice divorced man, who has three children from his two wives and the youngest was just 18 months and the ink on his divorce only a couple of months old when he was trying to woo her. I do not think that because I voiced this opinion at the time that it is right to be rude to me at my own Mothers funeral. The second one is her Mother who is old enough to know better herself and who completely ignored me despite being in my sister’s house with me before and after the funeral. I have no idea why she was being so rude but I can only imagine it is because I tried to interfere in her daughters life – even if I thought it was for the best. Some people still shock me in life but I guess the world would be boring if we all just got on with each other.
On Wednesday, we had a slight change of plans as Jar flew home to the US a day earlier as his work wanted him there for an important meeting on the Thursday and Friday – they paid the cost of changing his ticket so they must have been keen. Jar was dispatched to the airport and my sister and I decided to go and clear through some personal effects at my mums flat. Although she lived in a nursing home for the last 5 months she still had her McCarthy and Stone assisted living flat as it was on the market but hadn’t sold yet. We didn’t have the energy to do all the clothes and furniture so just went through papers and personal items that needed input from both of us and my sister, very kindly, will deal with the rest of it in time. There is no real rush until it sells. It was a horrible Dreach day – a typical Scottish day – so energy levels were very low. We took it easy and then came home to get the kids from school. I needed some fresh air so I took the dog out and picked the three oldest ones up to walk them home from the local primary school.
Amy, bless her, was playing on her pretend cell phone and handed it to me and said "Gran is on the phone" so I had to explain to her why Gran couldn't possibly be on the phone but it did bring a lump to the throat.
The plus side of this day was we had proper Fish and Chips for tea washed down with Diet Irn Bru. You just don’t get decent chip shop chips over here. Always a positive in every day if you look for it!
Apologies to Fay (who follows my blog) I really wanted to come and see you but the day just disappeared. You know you, Scott and Alan are welcome over here any time.
Thursday was my day for returning home. Flight to Heathrow and then onto Washington. Another positive was I got upgraded from economy to economy plus so had a bit more leg room. Still never managed to sleep so watched the movies 17 again – light and fun – and Ghosts of girlfriends past – already seen it but fun and light again. Started on my new book, Bombay Times by Thrity Umrigar and before I knew it I was back in Washington and being picked up by Jar.
Bobby had a successful week as he was being looked after by his new Bobbysitter we had set up for our holidays. The lady that came in each day left us a lovely note about her visit from each day and described Bobby as a lovely, friendly and vocal cat, so pretty much summed him up. Bobby had missed us but was well looked after.
So both rather drained and jet lagged from our rush trip but onwards and upwards. Enjoy life while you can. Xx