Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England

As I Slept I Dreamed a Dream


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.

A special place -1

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!)

MiL had problems with hearing loss for a number of years; an operation to insert a cochlear implant had helped a lot, but many things remained very difficult for her.

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’


Author: uphilldowndale

Watching the rhythm of rural life, from the top of a hill in northern England. Having spent most of my life avoiding writing, I now need to do it! I am no domestic goddess, but if I were expecting visitors to my home, I would whisk round with the duster and plump up the cushions and generally make the place look presentable. I hope that by putting my words where others may see them it will encourage me to ‘tidy up and push the Hoover around’ my writing. On the other hand I may just be adding to the compost heap. Only time will tell! Pull up a chair, sit yourself down, I’ll put the kettle on.

13 thoughts on “As I Slept I Dreamed a Dream

  1. My sincere condolences to you and your family on the loss of your mother-in-law. Losing someone so close is such a huge loss. It sounds like her funeral was a wonderful celebration of her life, and I enjoyed getting a glimpse of her passions through your words. Feisty is a great descriptor and certainly held her in good stead, I am sure. I admire her active approach to life, and I bet that hot soak (with sherry) was most appreciated after an arduous bike ride. It sounds like she was the heart of her home, and her cozy kitchen sounds so welcoming. The quote you shared is most fitting and comforting.

  2. This is absolutely dear. And charming. Your MiL sounds quite the character and I would have enjoyed her greatly. I know you will all heal in her love.

  3. Your MiL sounds like a truly wonderful lady. I’m sorry she’s passed from your lives. Your remembrances gave me pause, made me smile, and tear up. Thank you for sharing a bit of her life – and yours – with us.

  4. Again, I’m sorry for your loss. She sounds such a wonderful character, and such people never really leave us.

  5. It is always hard to see someone who so embraces life pass from us. But it sounds as though she enjoyed her life totally. We can’t ask much more.
    My nephew (from Chicago) spent a year at the University in Worcester and loved it. He has gone back to stay with friends he met while there this past summer. He loves the city as well. I hope to visit sometime as well. It sounds like a wonderful place to live.

  6. What a wonderful, if rather poignant, post. I enjoyed looking at all the links as well. xx

  7. What a grand MIL you had! Lucky you, to have known such a feisty lady! As I’m struggling with some hearing loss, I so appreciate her comment:
    ‘The loneliest place in the world is the edge of a conversation’ Now I’ll remember to draw in anyone who’s there.

  8. Lovely blog; thanks.

    The day mum moved in, I remember we (or maybe I) decided we needed to light the stove in order to boil the kettle for a cup of tea. Using the electric kettle might have been a better idea; it was at least 3 hours later that we got our tea but more enjoyable for the wait.

    In the years to come it was so nice turning up in the winter with the stove roaring away.

    The architects who had managed the renovation of the house (and decided to keep the range) before mum bought it were at the funeral. They were mum’s neighbours for several years and it was nice to see them again.


    P.s we must pop back to our church and check out the windows.

  9. Pingback: Spud on Sunday Part LXIXIII | Uphilldowndale

  10. What a wonderful story! Several stories In fact. MiL must have treasured the knowledge that her family is full of adventure and love for each other. My condolences.
    Now I must go find a copy of Pilgrim’s Progress – you’ve made it seem something I might like to read rather than ought to read.

  11. I’m sorry for your loss. You have created a beautiful and personal memory of her with this post

  12. I’m so sorry for your loss. This is a wonderful tribute to your mother-in-law.

  13. Pingback: The Further Adventures of Spud the Dog, April 22nd 2013 | Uphilldowndale

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