When my mother planned her funeral five years ago, she could never have imagined it would be streamed live across the world, but the service itself went as well as she had planned, despite Covid. As Western Australia has dealt well with the pandemic the limit was sixty people in Mum’s own church; how many of us could summon that many people to our funeral, especially at the age of 94 when many of one’s friends have already departed. Mum was also the last of her generation in our immediate family.
On the tenth of August my daughter and I were up ready to watch the funeral on her lap top at 4am British Summer Time, 11 am in Perth. The link failed just as my sister started reading the piece I had written and reconnected in time to see my brother reading his piece. Luckily the recording worked perfectly and we were able to watch that later.
This was a warm Christian funeral with the priest who knew her well, who had been visiting her in her last weeks; a sad, but happy event. Mum had been ready to go for a while. Five weeks previously my sister thought it was the final weekend. I had already talked to her on the phone not long before, laughing and putting the world to rights. She knew I would be widowed soon and would have willingly swapped places with Cyberspouse. Having outlived my father by 24 years she had been in the same situation, also with plenty of support from the rest of the family. We laughed at her memory of the mountains of paperwork they had to sort out; carefully preserved by Dad, dating back to our arrival in Australia in 1964. Mum’s hearing and mind were in fine fettle up to the end. On the ‘last weekend’ I manged to Facetime with her and my sister, a very different experience from those forced to do that with relatives dying of Covid, isolated in intensive care.
Our mother had chosen to go into a care home five years ago and made new friends, took up knitting again and started new hobbies such as card making. She had a room with its own little terrace where everyone could visit including my sister’s dog. Recently she had to move into the higher care unit, but was still watching the evening news. The care home had Covid rules and restrictions, but never went into lockdown, Mum could still have visits. After the ‘last weekend’ Mum felt peckish and carried on for those next five weeks!
It was a sad day for staff and her friends at the care home when she finally left; two of her friends there said she was the best friend they ever had.