My mother’s funeral, 19 Jan

Wedding Day, 1954

Apologies Mum, but I’m on the other side of the world. I am so glad I could visit twice, in last year or so. We had a few wonderful month, chatting, watching quiz shows, the Proms and old movies.

I particularly want to thank my brother David, his wife Janet and my nieces Charlotte and Jennifer who she was so fond of, for being there at the end when I couldn’t. They have been brilliant looking after my mother. I am thankful she could end her days at home.

It goes without saying that I will miss her immense love, her laughter, intelligence, curiosity, generosity, and her enthusiasm, an underrated virtue. She was a chatty, friendly Scouser, would talk to anyone. And she is missed by my partner, Bronwyn, who she loved. They shared a deep love of the arts.

She was born the same day as the late Queen into a large, loving extended family. World War Two threw her into another life, as a young, dedicated nurse caring for wounded and dying soldiers. In her 1969 book ‘On Death and Dying’, Kübler-Ross suggested there are five stages of dying—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I think my mother skipped most of these to reach acceptance. She lost both brothers and many close friends over the course of her long life. She told me she was ready to go a while back.

I thank all her good friends in Shenley Wood Care Village, staff and all the carers, who I got to know through visiting over the years. Claire, her cleaner became a friend, and wrote to me, ‘She was definitely one incredible lady who I had the pleasure to meet and spend time with. She made a huge impact on my life and for that I will be forever grateful.’ What could be a finer epitaph?

I recommend watching my mother in sparkling form on The One Show, just 6 years ago. A reminder of her wit and warmth. Just Google, ‘Barbara Bennett, One Show’. She will live forever in the digital kingdom of YouTube.

And us for those of us left behind, she used to say, ‘Make every day count’. And she did for 35,326 of them.

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