It has been five years since mum passed away, I was remembering how she was in her in last week before she lost her speech, she was a bit delirious and me and Ray were staying beside her bed at the hospital. She suddenly looked straight past us and focused, she said” Leslie (her husband who passed away in 1969) where the bloody hell have you been!” she looked to the space next to the invisible Leslie and said a bit belligerently “what are you doing here!”. I can only presume another departed relative had arrived She was fading in and out of consciousness, the next time she focused she said “I’ll have pie, mash and liquor!” I put the exclamation marks in to note that mum was never the shy retiring type, she finished with “show me the way” which she kept repeating till she lost consciousness, she was then returned to her lovely Fosse House for her last few days,where she was nursed by caring staff who even came to sit with me and mum when they finished shift. Mum was a character, I spoke with an old neighbour of hers from way back and she said they called her Attila the Hun on the street, “she ruled our street” she said, but we all both feared and loved her. Mum spoke her mind loudly always, sometimes making us all dive for cover out of embarrassment or fear we would get beaten up by the poor individual she had just verbally accosted in public, such as “her skirt is way too short” or “what does she think she looks like with all that peroxide hair”.but mum was also gregarious and generous and if you agreed with her she would love and fight and die for you, if you had other opinions though, then probably best duck!. Mum had a a best friend called Mike, they travelled the countries, around Europe mostly, together. We meet up with Mike every year on mums anniversary. It was a beautiful day today, lovely and sunny, we picked mike up from the station, he comes all the way down from Derby to St Albans for this. We had to wait a little while at the church upon arrival as there were people in the ashes garden which is a little garden set aside in the church grounds where the ashes are buried. The garden has wonderful trees that come together to make a magical covering to which someone has attached coloured metal butterflies and dragonflies to the lower branches, you could almost imagine pixies, fairies and elves playing in the bluebells and crocus patches that adorn the churchyard floor beneath.
The church is St Michaels and it dates back centuries. From the garden you can hear the sounds of children both from the nearby school and the church hall which has children’s groups and community during the week as well as the weekend and the museum, which runs educational visits, lies over the stone wall that forms the back of the garden, I love the way past and present seamlessly melds here. We went inside the church,the air was cool, the old stone of the building, the flagstone graves stones that lie embedded in the aisle floors, the stained glass windows, the deep hues of the woods all added to the peacefulness and the presence of Holy is so tangible in this place. We went over to see mums name at the top of the page of the book of remembrance, which lies opened to the date in one of the side aisles, recording all those that are buried here. I sat for a moment in the pews and drank in all the peace and reflected on the picture of the Holy One on the glass before me. I saw the intricate work of the stone masons in the stone statues that are inset in little alcoves around the hall that lie under the heavy ceiling beems, and just lost myself in thought and in the remembrance of mum . When the garden was free we went and reminisced about how mum would have enjoyed the grandchildren and how much like mum in her looks Rebecca our eldest granddaughter is. Mike had to get back to the train station to catch his connection soon after, as he does not like to leave his dog for too long, so we had a quick cup of tea in Verulam Park cafe which is accessed through a gate leading straight onto the park from the church grounds, I love Verulam Park with its lakes and the sound of both the Cathedral
bells and St Michaels church marking the hour.