It was my mother’s funeral today, and I gave following eulogy. As you will see from the order of service, the piece of music I was referring to, which immediately followed my address, was the Officium defunctorum (Requiem) by Tomás Luis de Victoria.
Thank you all for coming.
Many, many people have helped out in the months that Judy has been ill. I’d like to thank a few people in particular.
- Gill and Robert Green, my brother Justin’s in-laws, for putting up with a full house for the past few months;
- Pamela’s mother Barbara, who has been sending a card containing a few words and a pasted Snoopy cartoon, three times a week for two years;
- Elaine, who was like a sister to my mother;
- Adrian and Judy, quietly and selflessly helping out;
- All of the staff at Compton Hospice.
Lots of people here! In addition to her family, there are:
- Friends from her young married life with Adrian, in particular from Dudley Kingswinford Rugby club;
- Teachers from Westfield and Bobbington;
- People she knows from courses at U3A (University of the Third Age) Latin, Italian, history;
- People she knows from music courses at Bromsgrove and Wolverhampton University;
- Members of Wombourne & District Choral Society;
- Friends from her passion for Early Music, there are recorder players, harpsichord players, and for all I know, players of crumhorns, racketts, and hurdy gurdies;
- And of course members of the church and the community in and around Wombourne, that Judy was an enthusiastic part of.
So many people! I had always thought of Judy as a quiet woman, and I think she did too. But that reserve was balanced by a drive to do what she loved, to get out there and play music, or do what she needed to do.
I think everyone who has been with her over her struggle with cancer over the past months knows about that determination. She just kept on going, kept on doing the things she loved.
I’ll give a couple more examples.
When I was 5, Judy and Adrian got divorced. It must have been very hard for her, bringing up two young children, but of course we were too young to notice. We moved into a new house, and of course she was working full time to pay the mortgage. She wanted her children to have swimming lessons and piano lessons, play rugby, and join the scouts, so she needed to learn to drive. She created a mantra ‘learn to drive in 75’. She had driving lessons from a friend with her two children sitting on the back seat. She was such a nervous driver, and she devised a way to calm her nerves before her driving test: have a swift gin and tonic, and cover the smell by eating mint imperials.
And by the way, she still keeps mint imperials in her car. Justin found a Tupperware container in the driver’s door the other day. Even after all her struggles to eat high calorie food and gain weight, they still had a hand-written label on the lid: “Mint imperials, bought 26th September 2007, 11 kilocalories each”.
Another example of that determination. In the mid 90s, Mum announced that she was going to Uganda. The reason for that visit was my sister Bethan. We never knew that we had a sister. In those days, if you were a young unmarried mother, you weren’t given much choice. Judy’s mother’s first concern was to save the family from embarrassment. I think Mum was shaken up by this. She didn’t think she would ever see Bethan again. When Bethan contacted Mum, she and her family were doing development work in Uganda. I had been to Uganda as a student, and I knew that it was a difficult place to travel in, let alone for a sixty year old. OK, said Mum, and jumped on a plane to meet her daughter.
In the last few years of her life, Judy had a flowering. She had always clashed wills with her mother, and she said that when her mother died, she ‘came out from under a cloud’. These last ten or fifteen years were the best times of her life. After she retired, she took a music ‘A’ level, then a music degree, and got involved in all kinds of activities, including early music, but also other studies with U3A. Her sons, Justin and I, completed our studies with good degrees, and embarked on careers in computer software that she never totally understood, but was nevertheless very proud of. We both moved to California, but the family remained in close touch. Bethan and her family became part of Judy’s family, and she saw me and my brother settle down with women she liked. Just after my wedding to Pamela in California two years ago, Justin and Caroline had Zachary, and that gave her great pleasure.
I’m proud of everything that she achieved in those years. It was nice to be on the receiving end of all that love. I love you too, Mum.
The final healing happened this April. Judy took my father Adrian and his partner Judy to a weekend course to Benslow in South Wales. She lived for these courses, and knew that this was going to be her last. And she was pleased to be introducing her music, which she loved so much, to new people.
I’m going to leave you with a piece of music. Music was of course a passion of Judy’s life. She felt kinship with people who shared her passion for music. When she found a perfect piece of music, she could of course tell you intellectually why it was perfect. This particular piece, the first movement of a requiem written over 400 years ago for a Spanish princess, was the apex of polyphonic Renaissance choral music. But it’s quite simply a beautiful piece of music. That’s what she would like to leave us with. Please, sit back, reflect, and enjoy it.