Earlier this week our family gathered in Worcester for the funeral of My Mother-in-law (MiL).
She moved to Worcester in the mid 1980’s she loved the city, but most of all she loved her home. The epicentre of her home was her cosy kitchen, with its original cast iron range (which she took great pride in keeping lit all winter) and the steady, contented, tick tock of her clock.
The photo below is of a stained glass window that caught my eye during the wedding of my brother in law and sister in law, just a few days ago.
I thought the sentiment captured M-i-L’s relationship with both her home and with the city of Worcester. The quote is from the opening line of John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress.
MiL’s faith was very important to her, as was music (it was The Three Choirs Festival that first brought her to Worcester) and her funeral drew together many people from different churches in the city, there was beautiful music and hearty, tuneful singing (not from me, I so can’t sing at the best of times, let alone with a lump in my throat!) It was a service that celebrated her life and truly captured her spirit, which is just what we hoped it would be.
Describing MiL to a colleague I said she was ‘feistily independent’: and feisty was a word that cropped up several times during the funeral service, it’s also a word that could be easily substituted for passionate.
She was passionate about the ordination of women, she was a lay reader and involved with the group Women in Theology. She was passionate about her political beliefs and her wish for peace, she was a peace demonstrator at Greenham Common back in the 1980’s.
MiL was also passionate about her bike, a keen cyclist all her life she cycled from Worcester to stay with us in north Derbyshire during her 70th year, staying at youth hostels along the way. I remember she asked when she arrived if she could take a soak in a hot bath. I asked would she perhaps like a glass of sherry to take with her? She giggled and replied ‘I’ve never done that before, it sounds very decadent, but yes I think I will!’ She flatly refused to wear a cycle helmet, her theory being that it was the motorist responsibility not to hit her! (I’m pleased Tom has a very different attitude to cycle helmets!)
Were talking yesterday about such an incident.
To set the scene, we were all in a yellow taxi cab in New York city, we’d flown over to catch up with BiL who was racing around the world it was all very exciting. MiL was sat in the front of the cab, next to the driver, the rest of us were piled in the back. The driver is trying to ask MiL where she is from, but because she couldn’t see his face to lip read she couldn’t work out what he is saying.
Frustrated, the cab driver turns to us in the back and asked loudly
‘Doesn’t she speak English?’
To which my mother in law replied tartly.
‘ Actually, I’m deaf in ANY language!’
That told him. She would also have told you, don’t gabble, look at me when you are speaking to me and take your hand away from your mouth. Her hearing loss made social occasions, with lots of chatter and background noise particularly difficult; she had a poster above her desk, it read
‘The loneliest place in the world is the edge of a conversation’