Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Mum dying and becoming an orphan

When Mum died in 1977 I went to her funeral but I didn’t feel gloomy. Most of my life she had been ill or sad or both and I thought she would be better off in Heaven with my Dad and her parents. One thing that was quite nasty was that most of her former friends from work and people who had got to know her during her time in hospital didn't come to the funeral. I don't know why because I had gone to quite a lot of trouble to tell them. I called on some, phoned some from a telephone box and even wrote to a couple. A few did come of course and a few others sent flowers but most of them didn't seem bothered. I had enough money to pay for what she would have thought was a "respectable" funeral and for her to be buried and not cremated.

When I was a grown-up and happened to be anywhere in the St Albans area I used to visit her grave. It was only a short trip off the M1 and it would have felt horrible not to make the effort. Now I have moved over to west Wales I doubt I will make the trip again but I can picture her inside my head and of course I have some photos of her grave and also of Dad's grave that is an older part of the same cemetery.

At the same time as seeing Mum's grave  I used to put flowers on the grave of an old school friend who had died in an accident on the Watford by-pass the previous year. His grave was 2 rows down and 1 grave across from my Mother's plot. I must have visited his grave 6 or more times over the years. But then one year his stone had vanished and there was a different stone there. I asked at the site office and they knew nothing about any changes. I have never managed to find my friend's stone again but I kept looking for ages! I think the family must have had the body moved?

I was born in 1955, Dad died in 1958 and Mum died in early 1977 so by the time I was 21 I felt as if I was on my own except for Jane and Mrs H my land-lady. Dad's parents were still alive but we were not in regular contact. I had their address and phone number but once I knew they were not coming to Mum's funeral I never bothered with them again.  My Mother's parents had lived in Southern Rhodesia (as it was then) with Mum's sister who never married. She is still alive but very old and I write to her a couple of times a year. I don't remember exactly when Mum's parents died but it certainly was in an off-road accident when my Mum was still quite newly married. Her Dad used to work for De Beers (the diamond people) in South Africa and he was waiting to start a new job when he was killed. Life in Africa as a mining engineer was exciting but dangerous in those days.

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