I hope you have all enjoyed the summer – at least this year it hasn’t rained all through the school holidays. Blessing indeed.
As I enter my final year in this circuit I find myself reflecting on the privilege it is to have been stationed here, you are a wonderful bunch of folks to walk the journey of faith with. Our time together has involved celebrations, challenges and of course some sadness and difficult situations.
In my time in this circuit I have taken many funerals. They have all been unique and special in their own way, reflecting the character of a loved one. However, never before have we left the church joyously singing ‘You shall go out with joy’ complete with tambourines, clapping and waving. We then left the crematorium to the sound of the Can Can where I couldn’t resist a kick, although not a high one – I have to say it’s a bit awkward in a cassock. This funeral certainly reflected a life – the life of our friend Muriel.
It was some time ago that Muriel summoned me to discuss her funeral. She was 95 at the time and lived another two years. She wanted to ensure that even if people enter the church with a tear they would leave with a smile. She had that ability to make people laugh didn’t she? At the talents festival no one stood a chance of winning if singing against her, her comical songs where just that – comical, and what she lacked in musicality in the later years she made up for in spades with her interpretation and actions. She loved music and wrote her own hymns sometimes, as well as poetry. So she came up with the idea of going out with a bang: “You shall go out with joy” she said. “I’ve had a great life with no regrets and I know where I’m going (I hope).” You don’t argue with Muriel so that’s what happened and people smiled and there was laughter.
Muriel was someone who cared, someone who would do anything she could to help and someone with many creative talents. These she put to good use in her preaching. She became a local preacher later in life and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, putting so much preparation into them and including as many people as possible. She told me that she only had one message really, which she summed up as “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul and love your neighbour as yourself.” I think someone else said that before! She wanted to include everyone and was a dynamo when she led worship. It was sad when her loss of hearing and physical challenges caused her such frustration. But she soldiered on and I became aware that it wasn’t just what Muriel said but who she was and how she coped that became the message. She was an inspiration who was always there and who would never give up. Her daughter Mary wrote the words below the day after she died and read them at the funeral. I think she says it all:
SHE WAS ALWAYS THERE!
She was there, she has always been there!
Not just for me, not just for you, but for everyone she ever met.
She was there for her second family (the church) from the time she arrived at just four years old,
She was there to listen, advise and later on in life to preach and spread love to both the old and young!
She was there for her friends from school, long after they had all grown.
She was there for her friends she met along the way in life!
She was there for her own Dad and Mum; looking after, caring and nursing.
She was there for her husband; supporting, loving and finally saying goodbye to.
She was there for her children; encouraging, helping, listening and teaching but above all else loving!
She was there for their friends; never leaving anyone out.
She was there for her Grandchildren; rejoicing in everything they achieved loving them.
She was there for her great Grandchildren; relishing in the time spent with them, holding them, singing to them, cherishing every moment!
She was there for those around her who needed reassurance. She was there for complete strangers who needed compassion.
She was there when you did something wrong, to tell you you were wrong and then forgive you!
She was there when you needed help, but stood back when once again you could stand on your own two feet.
She was there to pick you up when you fell, yet was happy to let you run free.
She was there when there was sorrow and heartache to comfort and wipe away the tears!
She would admit she was no saint and would own up to her faults,
She could make you cry, she could make you smile, she could make you laugh and she cared and loved like no other.
She worked hard and suffered in so many ways, yet she would always find the strength to fight on!
She touched so many people in so many different ways;
She was always here!!!
But now she has gone;
Her shining light dimmed and went out. Her spirit has flown!
We know she has gone to a better place where she will no longer be in torment or feel pain, but that doesn’t make our parting any easier!
It does not take away the pain we are feeling.
There is something missing in the lives of everyone she has ever touched!
If it is true that our loved ones never truly leave us while they are held in our hearts and those of others; then she will always be with us in the lasting memories each and everyone of us has of her.
Be it Mrs French, Muriel, Grandma, Gran, little Gran, GG, Ma or even honorary Gran;
To us she will always be MUM! The little lady with the BIGGEST HEART!
Sleep tight you have earned your rest “God Bless!” until we meet again; WE LOVE YOU MUM!!! xxx
Bye Muriel and thanks for all the fun, the wise words and just for being there.
As she would say “That’s all for now folks.”