Mum at her granddaughter Christine’s wedding in 2013
I haven’t posted anything on here for a while due to having a crappy time of things since the last week in August. I was having a good time on holiday in Cornwall with my daughter and grandkids when I got a call telling me that my mum had a heart attack and was in Leeds hospital. Worried sick I travelled back to Leeds by train the next day August 25th and went straight to the hospital.
Several days later she was moved to our local hospital Airedale and looked to be on the mend. I felt more optimistic when I visited her, our conversations grew longer, we laughed some, discussed family, the news and soaps – almost back to normal. Sadly her health took a downturn and she passed on September 15th, not long before her 87th birthday on the 30th.
She left a big hole in the lives of my brothers and I and is very much missed. As I work for the Co-op and was able to use my membership card I arranged the funeral for October 2nd and although I helped some, left my brothers to sort the house out.
The hardest part of arranging the funeral was choosing 3 appropriate songs that she would like that would also remind us of her and help us to say goodbye. I listened to so many different songs and most had me in tears.
For the entry song I chose ‘You Raise Me Up by Westlife’. A beautiful song that the young amongst us would know and the words seemed very appropriate. For in the middle of the service I chose ‘I’ll Never Find Another You’ by the Seekers. The Seekers were my mum’s favourite group in the mid 60s, I can remember how much she loved watching them on TV and listening to their songs. The words are also very appropriate. The final song was ‘Welcome To My World’ by Jim Reeves. My brother chose that because she liked Jim Reeves and it was the final song played at our uncle John’s (her younger brother) funeral the previous year.
As my mum’s first name was Iris I searched for a spray of flowers with lots of Irises for the top of her coffin on and offline and ended up buying the beautiful spray pictured from a small local shop. I love Irises myself, such a pretty blue and they have always fondly reminded me of my mum.
Mum as a teenager
I had a picture of her blown up and placed in a frame to go on the coffin, it also took pride of place on the buffet table at her wake. That’s the picture on the right, she was probably in her late teens when that was taken. When I was a child I used to compare that photo with those of film stars from the 40s and 50s in a book that she owned. I thought that she looked just as beautiful as those film stars and still do. I had a little booklet printed with order of service and chose both of the pictures shown in this article to go on the front cover.
I also wrote the following poem about her life and family and overcame my normal shyness to stand up and read it out at the funeral.
A pretty young lass from Skipton town
Came to Keighley to marry our dad
Iris Marguerite Binns she was known
And he was Albert Kenneth Jones
Mrs Iris M. Jones became the name
Of this quiet and shy young woman
Ladylike and calm could be said about her
Dignified and kind, virtues she owned
In the 1950s their family grew
Adding 4 children to their crew
Frank, Patricia, Kenneth and Brynley
The chosen names of their young brood
Raised with our wellbeing always at fore
We couldn’t have wanted for anything more
In the 70s their grandchildren were born
Andrew, Frances, Christine, Stephen and Paul
Last but not least our Morgan arrived
Across the Atlantic our California girl
Our dad passed away and is missed till this day
We will always miss our mum in the same way
After the millenium great grandkids were born
And our mum Iris was proud of them all
Charlotte, Harrison, Mia, Max and Sam,
Isabella, Archie and Tyler all joined the clan
Our mum loved her family tho it didn’t always show
Deep down she cared more than we’ll ever know
We are here to say goodbye to Iris our mum
And pay tribute to her on this sad day
We all loved you our dear lovely mum
And will never forget you in any way
Goodbye mum bless you
I was offered 3 choices of ceremony: religious, absolutely no religion and middle ground. None of our family are religious, but she did get us christened. Her Muslim next door neighbour who had kept an eye out for her wellbeing was attending, also her cleaners who I had no idea how religious they were. I chose middle ground. No religion until the end and then the Lords Prayer. The celebrant read out a lovely eulogy in the middle of the ceremony, saying much of what I said in the poem.
Afterwards we had a quiet buffet at the Roebuck hotel in Keighley. Although a sad day it was nice catching up with the rest of my family. We don’t see each other very often, but all get on really well and we know that we are there for each other in troubled times.
It was hard work trying to clear my mums house out, I helped with some of it but as I have my own health issues left most to my brothers. There was so much stuff in her house that it made me want to declutter my own home more and not leave so much for my daughter to sort out when I go. We had a reasonable offer on the house very quickly from her next door neighbour’s father in law, so providing that goes through it’s one less thing to deal with.
Writing this may seem self indulgent, but I am finding it very difficult to come to terms with my mum’s loss and am perhaps using this article as a final farewell to the woman that I have loved for almost 63 years. There are some that say that she had a good innings and yes she did, but it is still hard to imagine the bright and intelligent mum that I last visited in her home on August 16th; just before my trip to Cornwall not being there anymore.
In 1981 my mum and I started a tradition that lasted 36 years. We met in town every week for lunch until about 7 years ago when she was struggling to walk unaided. After that I took lunch and some shopping down to her every week. I was also under instruction to take a TV magazine down every week, she liked to read about what was happening next in the soaps and discuss it. If I forgot her tv mag I was in trouble! Her last words to me the day before she died were ‘Have you brought my tv mag?’ A memory that now makes me smile.
On our visits we discussed the soaps of course, relayed news to each other about family, her cleaners, discussed the news and sometimes politics. Our mum was a lifelong Labour supporter and I and my brothers all turned Tory. We had mild arguments with her – sometimes we wondered if she started them to wind us up a bit. She was always interested in my work and often remembered things that I had mentioned about the job or my workmates long after I had forgotten about them.
I miss those weekly chats very much and wish that I could spend more time chatting to my bright and intelligent mum. It’s funny how when I was a youngster I felt that I could never talk to her yet as I grew older she was the one that I talked to the most. Last Wednesday I found myself at a loose end and revisited one of the cafes that we used to meet in, it wasn’t the same without her.