Eden by DH Lawrence [with a slight tweak by Robert]
I have found a place of loneliness,
Lovelier than Lyonesse,
Lovelier than Paradise
Full of a sweet stillness,
Which no day can distress,
Never a noise transgress
The full moon sank in state;
I heard her stand and wait,
For her watchers to shut the gate
Then I knew myself in a wonderland,
All of darkness, and falling sand
Of hours hard to understand
Always waiting, again I knew
The presence of the flowers that grew,
Noiseless, their wonder noiseless blew:
And flashing kingfishers that flew,
In soundless beauty – and the few
Shadows the passing wild-beast threw;
Eve discovered on the ground,
Soft-given, strange, and never a sound,
To break the embrace that we had found
The perfect consummation,
The final, paradisal One,
Recovered now the world was gone
My Mum would hate being here today.
Not just because of what it represents, but because she hated being the centre of attention.
But I always wanted to put my Mum in the spotlight because I have always thought she was an amazing, inspiring and special woman.
Since Mum passed away, I have literally been inundated with messages from all sorts of people who knew her … old friends, old colleagues – even her dentist – and all of them described her using the same words:
“Gentle. Generous. Kind. Thoughtful. Compassionate. Independent. A true lady.”
They are wonderful words.
They are words that describe a beautiful character … but if I was to tell her that, she would give me a sweet smile before changing the subject.
You see my Mum was an incredibly humble woman who didn’t think she was doing anything special. In fact, if you asked her what she was proud of, I would imagine she would say a maximum of 3 things.
2. Her attitude to life.
3. Her teeth.
But the fact is, everything she did was special.
Not just in terms of her talent – of which some of you may be surprised to learn included being a wonderful painter and writer – but in terms of her generosity.
There’s a reason why many of my friends are here today – and it’s not just because she always loved it when they filled the house with noise and laughter – it’s because she always was warm, open and kind to them.
But in matters relating to me, my Mum’s generosity knew no bounds.
From a personal perspective, I can tell you that I never wanted for love.
I never wanted for support.
I never wanted for encouragement.
She gave me so much including teaching me what total, unconditional love really meant.
For example, when Dad fell ill, she was adamant I should continue with my plans of moving to Australia.
Of course part of her didn’t want me to go, and I felt the same, but she – and Dad – wanted me to live a life of discovery and fulfilment and they knew if I didn’t go at that moment, I may never leave which is why I hope the life I now lead repays their faith and love … though they may be more impressed by the fact I am wearing a suit, tie and shoes … which is something I didn’t even manage at my own wedding.
But my Mum is no longer here.
This was not how it was supposed to be.
My Mum was going to go into hospital, get her heart fixed and enjoy a new lease on life.
But it didn’t work out that way.
It is important you all know mum knew there was a risk.
And as risky as heart surgery is, she knew it was not as risky as not having the operation.
Mum embraced life.
She loved walking, learning, travling, exploring – we had gone everywhere from China to the North Pole together – but her illness had curtailed most of the things she loved which is why any chance of changing her situation was a chance worth taking.
And while the level of risk was relatively low – 10% – the reality is my Mum had rhumatic fever when she was a child and that is an illness that slowly – but continuously – attacks the heart.
While most people with that condition still have a successful surgery, my Mum sadly had a complication that only 5 people out of 8000 have had and that resulted in this terrible thing happening to her.
If there is anything to feel thankful for, it is that she didn’t suffer at all and knew I was with her.
And while I am eternally grateful that we got to spend so much time together in the last 5 months – including spending New Year together – and I’d do anything to have her back with me … I cannot tell you how grateful I am for that ending and I know she would feel the same way too.
While there is so much more I could say about her, I feel I need to say some things to the people in the church.
To her family, especially Silvana, Chris & Selene.
My Mum loved you so much. We were even talking about her maybe moving back to Italy as she loved the idea of being closer to you all. She would be so happy and honoured that you are here today.
To her friends, especially June.
Thank you for always being there. I know my mum was stubbornly independent but she always was greatful for the friendship and support you gave her over the years. To be honest, I don’t think she realised how many people thought so highly of her … but that’s because she didn’t realise how special she was.
To my friends, especially Paul and Shelly.
I can’t thank you enough for everything you did for my Mum and for me. We both appreciated it more than you could ever know. I don’t know if I will ever be able to repay your kindness and compassion but I will continue to try.
To my wife Jill.
My Mum loved you. She was so happy we were together, so happy I’d found you, so happy I had managed to convince such a beautiful, kind and thoughtful person to be my wife.
To her grandson Otis.
I know you won’t understand what I’m saying or will remember these words … but you need to know that while my Mum didn’t get to hold you in her arms – something she desperately wanted to do – she held you in her heart and I’m so greatful that you made her last 3 months so full of happiness.
You are a gift to all of us and I totally understand why she told your other Grandma that she rejoiced in your birth.
And finally to my Dad.
I know we are not a religious family, but I have to say I hope Mum is with you, especially as tomorrow would be your 51st wedding anniversary and you deserve to be together again.
And so I come to the end of my dedication and all I will say is this.
Thank you Mum. Thank you for everything.
The kindness, the support, the care and most of all the love.
You were a very special person and I miss you more than I will ever be able to express.
The world is a better place for having had you in it, even if it is now a sadder place now you’re gone.
You were – and are – a very special person.
I love you and always will.
Arrivederci mamma, molti baci.
Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep by Mary Elizabeth Frye
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.