Last words

I went to a funeral service the other day for a very inspiring and wonderful lady. The service was beautifully done by a Humanist – I’m almost tempted to become one. It was an uplifting (though very sad) day, and made me think of what I would like for my own funeral.

I don’t care too much about the service or even the rendez-vous. At one time I was keen to be buried (I was rather horrified by seeing my grandfather’s coffin silently whisked away for cremation when I was 11) but you can’t really have a bunch of bodies cluttering up the place in London, can you? A bit of singing would be nice. People can cry if they want, I’m fine with emotion. But what I’d really, really like is a big wreath made out of white chrysanthemums saying “Mum”. Everyone I’ve mentioned this to has been horrified (including my daughters). In many ways, it is not very ‘me’. It’s the kind of thing that has a tiny touch of the gangland, it’s a bit raffish. Why I’d want this at my own funeral, I can’t really say. I just feel that I do.

Mum's the word

It’s partly that these one word wreaths are so unequivocal. Mum – that is what I am. It’s not everything about me, but it does sum up the most important part of my life, the bit which I have treasured more than I ever thought I would.

Of course, people don’t have to stop at Mum – they could also opt for Chum or even Glum (after all, even writing about this is a bit morbid, isn’t it?). It doesn’t even have to rhyme. There’s room for Wife, Minx and even Ex.

I suppose the thing I find the most attractive about this idea is that it is all about words. I have loved words all my life. I don’t want death to take my words away. I shall look down very happily, God willing, at a jumble of monosyllables. I won’t even mind if they include the odd unflattering epithet (I think Cow would look really funny as a white chrysanthemum wreath and, let’s face it, I have my moments). But the one I’m secretly hoping to last long enough to earn is Gran.


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