It is one year ago today that we laid Margaret to rest.
The church was packed and the service and hymns were exactly as she would have wanted full of joy for her life. The poem Anne sent over from South Africa really captured Margaret’s infectious personality that shone despite her illness.
I am writing this just before I retire for the night as I have just taken the opportunity to re read Margaret’s letter to me and the boys. It conjured up so many things in ones mind as I read it that her voice is ringing in my ears “now listen what I have to say”. Margaret I would not have changed a thing despite the path God had chosen for us a young couple and later as a family.
To have sat and wrote the letter in 2011 so articulately and with so much love for me and the boys it is very difficult to read it and ask our own questions of what IF. You said in the letter about me putting my life on hold I never once felt that – yes I worked hard at times but there is one certainty you never held me back despite everything that you had to deal with.
Yes you were right I did have a choice but I made the right choice all those years ago in 1968.
Last Sunday we sang your favourite hymn “Make me a channel of your peace” I will always think about you as we will no doubt sing it again the future.
What does one do but wait we know where we are supposed to be and at what time – just wait it feels like it is going to be a long day.
I decide that the time for me to read Margaret’s letter is now just before we go up to the chapel of rest. I read it in the conservatory it is very moving especially as I am reading it now four years after she wrote it on the day of her funeral. She was a real words smith in getting things so right and very particular in how she wanted to convey her last thoughts with us all.
Steven and family arrive we all go up to chapel of rest along with a few mementos to place in the coffin – drawings from the older grandchildren, a photo of Anne and Margaret along with her poem a picture of me and so on.
To say she looked so beautiful and calm would not be doing her justice her smile was there and I remarked to Anne later that I thought it was more a laugh – “any more stuff in the coffin and you are going drop me” – just the sort of thing Anne and Margaret’s sense of humour would have been like during their friendship.
A quick lunch before the hearse etc arrives.
I decided if we were able for me and the boys to carry Margaret into the church.
Cars arrive and we get ourselves sorted over the three cars and make our way to the church. There were many there already – speak with my family from down south – and prepare for any final things to do – words in my pocket decide to do it on my own and get mic fitted and where it will come in the service.
The church and flowers were perfect.
Final instructions of how we will lift coffin up and walk to the front – a moment that the four of us will cherish for ever to hoist Margaret on our shoulders and carry her forward with such grace befitting of someone so precious to us.
Hymns from Mission Praise
MP 50 Be Still in the presence of the Lord
MP 825 Faithful one
MP 445 Lord the light of your love
MP 456 Make me a channel of your peace
Sung at the crematorium
MP 921 Purify my heart
MP 880 Lord I come to you
Audio of service
It is pouring with rain as we leave the church for the crematorium. No time to linger which was a shame as there were many of my friends from my time at the BBC came to support me. (Decide to get in touch later)
Arrive at crematorium to be created by Graham to tell me that there is no organist /no music for two well known hymns. Quick thinking speak with the Sandyhills Choristers (Our Church choir members) to see how best to do this agree them to kick us of – on we go as planned. It turned out perfect well done to them.
So it finally came much feeling that is hard to put into words that my love for the past forty-eight years was in the hands of our Lord for safe keeping forever.
Display in Redstones Hotel
We left the service with Barbara Streisand singing “Memories”
I am not one for a post crematorium reception but you do manage to get through it as best you can.
Off to the Redstones for a reception with many of our friends and family. It was great to see so many you always feel it is a shame that we do not meet more often but busy we are all with our own families does not make this possible. Photographs exchanged showing Margaret in her early years added to the occasion.
Thanks to everyone.
This was a day when memories were to the fore but Margaret lives on through our (always will call them our boys) boys.
I cannot thank Steven, Philip and Matthew for getting me through this last week, our moment in church as we lifted your MUM just felt so right.
Everything is in place printer sorted and able to meet deadline.
I spend a bit of time going over my words again and again and agree on poem to read.
Philip and Jacquie are with me so plenty of banter to keep us amused.
Hear from family as they make arrangements and travel up from Midlands and Wales.
Anne sends over a poem from South Africa immediately forward to Graham for inclusion in the service.
Philip and his mum @ Matthews wedding
Agree what Margaret was to be wearing in the coffin – decision one of her favourite wedding outfits – taken to funeral directors.
Philip takes time out in the evening to hookup with friends, Maureen and Helen Glassford our elder come round for chat.
As usual I could not stop talking about Margaret especially how much she valued their friendship in the ten years that we have been at Sandyhills Church. Margaret really felt at home in the church and her faith was very important to her. We both felt so comfortable in the church and I know on occasions as we sat together I would reach over and turn her engagement ring round to catch the light it always got a smile from her.
Perhaps today may be a bit calmer and give us a chance to take stock of where we are at.
Phone call to Leuchie House re arrangements for Friday and also to family in England and Wales. The most difficult was updating Anne in South Africa and asked her if she felt she was able to pen a few words which I could get Graham to include in his eulogy.
Two days to go to funeral I hit the keyboard to finalise with Matthew the order of service and my own words which I wanted to say during the service. There were so many thank yous but my main focus was Leuchie House staff, district nursing staff and Margaret’s carers Bernie and Michelle. I know that the last two years were very difficult for Margaret and I since she had the supapubic catheter fitted – I know I lost it a few times but I wanted so much for Margaret’s quality of life to be as near perfect as was possible.
We have decided following discussion with funeral directors how we would like Margret to be dressed. After much thought decided on one of her wedding outfits with trimming etc.
Decide to go to Redstones Hotel for lunch and make final arrangements for Friday.
Twelve months on a little sketchy now but we were on track for Friday.
Everybody arrives for meeting with Funeral directors 10 am. The ladies set to and give the house a bit of a tidy up nothing much done in the last week whilst we are at the funeral directors.
Meet Jackie at Co-op funeral directors Shettleston, taken to small room and told all the details of what happens next.
Calls made Crematorium slot agreed for Friday 5 February @ 4 pm. Schedule agreed with minister for service @ 3 pm. Call Maureen to ask her to speak with Mrs Margaret Crawford re flowers in the church. Agree with Jackie for viewing in Chapel of rest up till 2 pm on 5 February.
No of cars agreed and timetable to arrive at Carrick Drive
Call to Redstones Hotel confirm Friday after crematorium fro reception – agree to call alter re final arrangements and numbers.
Leave and make our way to Showers for Flowers to decide on floral display for coffin etc. Pick the following Heart from me, Mum and Gran in white from boys and grandchildren and finally a display for the reception afterwards.
Arrive home ready for lunch minister arriving at 3 pm for chat.
All sit for lunch I wander a bit trying to assemble what we have sorted so far – finally it takes its toll on me my legs give away again as they did in the hospital – everyone very concerned a sit down and I am fine. I think it was me thinking of what I am about to speak to everyone about just before we eat.
I thank everyone for what they have all done for me today but importantly I wanted to speak to them about Margaret and her wishes. I spoke also about how she would have wished to have passed away before me as for her to go in to residential care would have given her a poor outcome in her remaining life. I gave a short prayer and thanked the Lord for her life and all that she meant to us.
Much laughter followed as we ate, stories were exchanged great feeling of family together.
Ministered arrive at 3 pm quite a gathering I am not sure he was prepared as he began with asking questions. I said at one point was there enough time to get all this in. It is surprising how much information and reflection from everybody there is in moments like this. Graham left around 5 pm.
I now had something import to give to the boys. Margaret was very good at knowing what she wanted do as her MS condition worsened she wanted to so much to speak personally with the boys and me. She was able to achieve this by writing a letter in 2011 which David her brother did on a visit to them in Armadale. I know when I saw him come out of the room where they were working how difficult it was for him to do this. I handed them the sealed letters and asked them to open them at a time of their choosing when they felt it was right for them.
Finally completed a draft order of service and emailed to Matthew to finalise and get to printers ready for Friday.
Discussion re what we the boys were wearing – decision handkerchief in top pocket of suit in Margaret’s favourite colour. Agree music for crematorium – Stevie Wonder “I just called to say I loved you” instrumental version for entering and Barbara Streisand ” Memories” for leaving.
The day after the day before how does one describe ones feeling after what we went through yesterday.
As the hours drifted by and the enormity sinks in that Margaret is no longer with us.
Now there is so much to do and arrange Margaret’s funeral.
We are against some deadlines especially as Matthew is scheduled to fly back out to Oman one week today with his family to carry on his job at the conference centre.
Email Anne in South Africa to update her re Margaret’s death.
Collect death certificate from the hospital. Arrange to register death at the council offices Speak with chosen funeral home to carry out arrangements Speak with minister re funeral Arrange flowers Arrange for details of funeral service leaflet to be printed
Book hotel for post funeral get together (Redstones Hotel – cannot do till after meeting with funeral directors)
A lot to do in a short space of time. Call made to council offices and meeting set for 4 pm today which just gave us time to get sorted – travel to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary to collect certificate and then drive back to Glasgow for council appointment – going to be tight any delays and we miss deadline 1.
Make it just – back in Glasgow (forgot – to add my panic as I cannot find birth and marriage certificates – I turn draw and folders upside down but they are not to found hate this feeling of being inadequate not able to locate the documents – read up on website we could register without them. Still very unhappy). Registration made so decide to have a bite in Jamie Oliver’s in George Square.
Further appointments made at Co-op Funeral Directors Tuesday 10 am all the boys will attend with me. Minister visit arranged for 2/3 pm on Tuesday afternoon. Arrange to have a big family lunch on Tuesday David, Janice, Sandra, Steven, Yvonne, Philip, Jacquie, Matthew and Fiona. All to attend visit with minister.
A full on day – who else to inform apart from family – nothing more to add – I am on whatever it is to get me through today. The week ahead does not bear thinking about.
Philip and Jaquie give me much needed comfort – we seem to be all on a rush in and out of the red bus all week is there any end so much to do.