In Loving Memory
On Friday 22nd February 2013, my mother, Joan died. I agreed to speak at her funeral and represented my brother and two sisters in doing so. As I wrote down what I wanted to say, it came to me that much of what I could speak about would make for good content for the Neighbourgood web site with its emphasis on social care. The more I thought and wrote, the more obvious it seemed that Joan incorporated principles of community care in her every day living and seemed like a natural inhabitant of the Neighbourgood. So that’s what I’m doing here writing about her and drawing inspiration from her.
Joan was a good neighbour, one of the very best. Over her life time she provided a lot of care for a number of people much of which was on the basis of friendship and informal. She often helped out her family and neighbours and on occasions an employer or two. Much of her married life, my mum was a housekeeper for various people and even here the boundary between housemaid and nurse could blur. The help mum gave was generally freely offered; it was sometimes paid-for but was always for love!
In the latter years of her life, Joan had been poorly and in the last months more seriously. She had diabetes, angina, heart surgery, poor circulation, depression, and then towards the end of 2012, the doctors discovered Cancer. During the last year or so, she had been subject to a whole range of tests and appointments with the doctor that made her pretty fed-up at times but she increasingly, needed a lot of care and support most of which was provided by my sister and a very close friend.
Mum was a prime example of someone who provided care and support for others and needed the same for herself at times. She had physical and mental health problems over her life time and experienced a range of life events that would have been challenging for any of us. These days of course, communication is better, we understand more about illness and disability and people have a greater sense of their rights. Along with professional care, there are all kinds of organisations out there, that provide help and support in some way for probably, the full range of problems that people experience. These are the organisations that I want to register with The Neighbourgood. Those supportive, caring groups that provide services for people like Joan and to help with the kind of difficulties she had. The reason for that is to help people in need of help to find it.
So my mother was a person who through her life helped others and towards the end of her life needed help herself. She really was someone who engaged in “Care in the Community” way before the phrase became familiar to us. These days that kind of care is now emphasised within the principles of Personalisation which recognises the value and importance of the kind of care and support that occurs organically within families and communities. For Joan, those networks included her church, the small housing estate where she lived, her Village, Uffington and her family. When I say, “Family,” that includes a pretty large group of people. That will be clearer if you read my full address but here’s one thing I said about her:
Mum’s love of family wasn’t confined to just blood. In her definition of family she undoubtedly included all partners of her children and grandchildren, as well as her own siblings and their offspring along with a whole group of people in Australia and who knows where else. The thing is, you didn’t have to do much with Joan to be regarded as family. Some of you had to marry in but there are others too who just needed to be around for a while or respond with warmth to her openness and that would get you in.
Joan’s fourth child Judith, died in infancy. No parent expects to outlive their child and when they do, there will always be an additional edge to any loss or family event. For the funeral, the family asked for no flowers but suggested that instead, people give money to The Lullaby Trust their donation page is here. We just thought that would be better and that Joan would have appreciated it too.
So this post is written in loving memory of my mother and as a tribute to Joan as a carer, good friend and neighbour. The full text of what I said at the funeral service is here.