My sister-in-law asked her mother’s grandchildren to tell her the things about their grandmother that she could put in the funeral service, so that people could remember my mother-in-law through the eyes and hearts of her grandchildren.
How beautiful and how fitting, I thought to myself.
My mother-in-law left school at 14 and went out to work to earn money for her family. A year later, when she was 15, her father died. Since then, at the tender age of 15, she had adopted the role of matriarch (her Spanish mother was blind and unable to speak English).
So mum did not achieve much in the eyes of the world. She wasn’t a doctor, she wasn’t a scientist, she wasn’t a company director. She worked as a cleaner and she used to take my children’s father to work with her when she cleaned shops and the convent. Later, much later, she got a job doing clerical work at the London Electricity Board in Bexleyheath. Oh, she was so proud to be an office worker! Dear mum, bless her heart. She became the office mum to the young girls. That was her career high, an office girl in her sixties, and then she retired to care for her husband. But mum being mum, she did so with no resentment and with much cheerfulness.
Her day was busy but she always had time for her grandchildren, either to bake fairy cakes or walk the dog in the park or do art using old Christmas cards. She had amazing parties for the family on tight budget but everyone left her house full and happy. She loved us with all her heart, and that is the legacy she leaves behind, as her beautiful grandchildren remember the much-loved woman she had been.
From my niece Sarah: “Nan and I took the dog for a walk in Danson Park and for some reason, we decided to take a shortcut across the lake. We were caught in quick sand and my summer dress was ruined. We almost died that day.”
We can either leave behind a broken generation and large financial bequeaths, or people filled with love and the desire to go on and create happy families. This bears testament to the fact that raising children with love and kindness is one of the most important jobs for humankind.
It’s a beautiful thing to leave behind, this legacy of love.
Rest in peace, Mum. I love you.