The trauma of the past few weeks has left us all drained. After the necessary contacting of relatives and Nan’s friends and informing them of the sad news, having to relate the events of the past weeks did not help the emotions. A couple of days after Nan passed away the Rothwells, Sarah and I met in Dingley Woods to walk one of our favourite routes in an effort to fill that empty void. Nan particularly enjoyed this little walk, especially during the spring when the blue-bells were out, we have some lovely photos of Nan and the family in various poses among those pretty spring flowers. As usual we enjoyed the rope swings and discovered a secret wooden shelter as well as conducted our annual search for bears. As in the past we never actually found any, but discovered lots of evidence for, obviously making it worthwhile to return next year. Afterwards we drove over to Braybrook and had a drink at The Swan.
There have been many tasks to complete and things to arrange. Not least, the most unpleasant of all was registering Nan’s death. Appropriately on the 13th, Charlotte and I visited Kettering Hospital for the last time and collected the Doctors certificate before proceeding to Kettering Registry to complete the procedure with a rather faceless bureaucrat. Afterwards we visited the Co-op Funeral Directors in Harborough and made arrangements for the funeral. Sue had suggested them and I had heard that they were very good. And this turned out to be true.
A couple of days later I had a dentist check-up in the morning and as I had an appointment with the Vicar (Susan Cooper) that afternoon, Charlotte and Sarah made themselves available. I had telephoned Nan’s sister (Josie) prior to her visit to make notes on Nan’s childhood to aid my own memory and provide material for the Eulogy. Susan was appropriately sensitive and made the process easier than I had imagined it was going to be.
I had contacted an old friend from Farndon Fields (Pat Edwards) to do the catering for us and she kindly agreed to do so. We were hoping to have the ‘Tea’ in the lounge at Huntingdon Gardens, making it easy for us to invite Nan’s friends from there. However, the builders were upgrading the whole building and it wasn’t going to be finished in time for the funeral. However, the landlord of the Royalist pub around the corner (I used to teach him) offered us the pub lounge, which we gratefully accepted, thus solving the problem of refreshments.
During this these days Sue, Sarah and Charlotte were busy sorting Nan’s things and flat out as Seven Locks (the management Company) required the property to be emptied. I gladly accepted the job of sorting out all the paperwork and phone call tasks needing to be done, at home, as I couldn’t face dismantling and getting rid of all Nan’s possessions. The local charity shop (Air Ambulance) did well and many items that were not wanted by the family were sold very quickly on Facebook. It is fortunate in a way that Sarah is soon to move into her first house and has need of quite a lots of house-hold items.
The few days before the funeral Sarah and I went to see Nan at the Chapel of Rest. She looked so peaceful and surprisingly young. There were Nan’s teddy bears in a beautiful casket that looked as is it would just dissolve into the lovely bright flower strewn meadow scene which covered the outside, she would have been so pleased and I think contributed to the slight look of smugness on her face. Inside there had been placed her favourite Care-bear along with a small collection of other bears that she treasured. Sarah didn’t think she looked like Nan any-more but when I showed her the photograph of Nan in her twenties I had included in the Order of Service, she had to agree that it was. Sarah and Charlotte visited again the following day and placed some pictures from the boys alongside Nan.
The funeral was held on Wednesday 21st January. The weather forecast was horrendous. Heavy overnight snow had been expected. Though it was damp and cold in Harborough we found out that the Yorkshire relatives had 5 inches of the white stuff, yet the Welsh relatives who live on top of a mountain just had fog. To our relief, everyone committed to the journey and all turned up and met at our house prior to the funeral cortege. David had flown in from Bulgaria again and I picked him up from the train station during the morning. I went with him to see Nan at rest and I think it helped. Sue had made a rather tasty chicken casserole for our visitors as they had travelled from such a long way, and it was much appreciated by all when they arrived. It was nice to see our relatives meet and chat and be so comfortable and comforting to each other.
When the hears appeared on time at 3.15pm, it was accompanied by Susan Cooper , Close family members occupied the second limousine while my family (less Ellis who was at school) took the first one behind Nan. We were surprised and pleased when the cortege proceeded slowly down Welland Park Road, preceded by a marching attendant, appropriately dressed with silver cane. Nan would have loved that.
Upon arrival at the Crematorium David and I were instructed on our duties as part of the pall-bearers while the rest of the mourners waited patiently. I was surprised how heavy the casket was. I had always told Nan that she needed to lose some weight. We led the procession into the the Chapel while ‘Myfanwe’ played in the background and we placed Nan on the dais while her friends and family took their seats. After a short welcome from the priest Jamie, Charlotte and Sarah spoke of their memories of Nan.
I think we can all agree that Nan was special. And her most endearing quality was her sense of independence. She knew what she wanted to d and God help anyone who got in her way. As a family we would cringe when Nan had decided she wanted to have her say and no-one could predict what it was going to be.
Years ago at a friend’s wedding she stood up during the reception speech and announced that my dad was going to deliver a speech on behalf of the Palmers. At the age of 18yrs and having no knowledge of the bride or groom he did as he was told and still bears the scars of that memory today.
I think we can all agree that Nan could be the most stubborn person you could ever hope to meet. We were never left in any doubt about the things she didn’t want to do and more importantly about the things she was going to do.
When we lived at our old house in Fairfield Road my mum had a moped it was always Nan’s desire to have a go on it. Most probably with the idea that if it was easy, she would buy one herself. Despite our protests she mounted the moped and refused any instructions on what to do, saying it is just like riding a bike and set off down the drive.
Picking up speed she headed for one of the apple trees, and realising her dilemma she twisted the accelerator rather than the brake and at the last moment grabbed onto one of the branches as the moped continued on its way. Swinging from the tree branch she refused to discuss the matter any further, blaming the stupid moped.
What can I say? Nan would often get herself into a stew about anything that had to be arranged or organised, much preferring to wing it and do her own thing. But boy could she make stew If you haven’t tasted it, it is your loss.
Nan was the most generous and loving individual to us all. We were always spoilt no matter what time of year. She would collect her 5p’s in a little pot and enjoyed sharing it out between the three of us.
But, we do share a little secret with our Nan. Often when we were visiting Steadfolds Lane, we three would quietly listen for mum and dad going to bed and then one by one sneak into Nan’s room to sleep. She never complained nor did she ever let on to mum and dad.
THANK YOU NAN……… FOR BEING JUST THE WAY YOU ARE.
We sang ‘Lord of Hopefulness’, chosen because it is my favourite hymn and was sung every Friday afternoon by Farndon Fields School before the children left for home. We also sang it at my father’s funeral and it somehow seemed all the more appropriate.
After a Bible reading by Susan Cooper she gave the Eulogy. Despite the sad scenario its content caused smiles and nods of recognition as our Nan’s character and spirit was outlined with many a descriptive example which made this passing a little more bearable. Nan would have approved.
We sat and reflected while ‘A Nightingale Played in Barclay Square’ played. Only a month earlier Sue and Nan had been to a Glen Miller tribute concert in Kettering and she had sung along to all the tunes played.
After the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ followed the Commendation and Committal and as the curtain closed, Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll meet again’ played. So hard to say those last farewells.
We stayed a while to admire the beautiful flowers that had been thoughtfully arranged outside, before proceeding to the Royalist to meet the residents and friends of Nan we had invited to tea. Pat had prepared a splendid buffet and I think was much appreciated by those relatives that had travelled such a long way to help celebrate Nan’s life. Sarah and Charlotte had created a slide show of some 500+ photos of Nan and this we showed on Nan’s own TV, which we had brought around to the pub earlier that morning. There was much laughter and smiles as family and friends looked at some of the antics that Nan had got up to (she was no shy retiring flower). It was lovely and helped to break the ice between the three groups of family: Parsonage, Palmer and Nixon. The entertainment was further supplemented by Lizzy, one of Huntingdon Gardens residents and a friend who first stood up with Ellis and sang a song (how sweet) and then buoyed by people’s praises, sang a further two in tribute of Thelma.
As the evening grew on, people left to make their own way home, some stopping for a drink of tea back at Willow Bank. Last to leave the Royalist was Charlotte, Sarah and Jamie and myself with Suraj and new family member Lee. We tidied up the buffet and powered off the TV before joining Sue back at the house, she had returned with the earlier leavers to put the kettle on.
When all had gone, Suraj and Lee returned to the pub and brought home the TV and what was left of the buffet. We all had a relatively subdued early night.
The following day I took David to the train station to catch a flight that afternoon from Luton. As it transpired a few days later, we shall be seeing him again sooner than expected as Genya’s mother passed away soon after he arrived back in Bulgaria. He will be driving back this weekend. Our thoughts are with them.
That evening we met again as a family at the Nepalese restaurant in Desborough (Gurkha) for a lovely meal and to help heal the sadness of the last few weeks.
On Saturday morning Sue, Charlotte and I travelled to Smeeton Westerby for the first Council Walk of the year. The weather was cold but bright and sunny. Afterwards we had a pleasant lunch at the ‘King’s Head’.
Today Sue and I are travelling down to Southampton to catch the Oceana on Monday. I had booked our passage on the ship as Sue’s Christmas present, though many times during the past few weeks we thought we would have to cancel.
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