Plus thoughts about Mum
When I was a child I found the concept of generation difficult to understand. I knew that older people were once young because they were always telling me so, but I didn’t believe that they really used to run round and play like I did. I wondered how you moved from one generation to the next and then when I reached my 50s and my Mum was approaching her 80s the full significance of generation hit me. Older generations die. This rarely happens in one go and so inevitably one member will be left after all the cousins, brothers and sisters have gone. Yesterday was the sort of day for thinking about this because it was my Mother’s Stone Setting and Memorial Service.
I’m typing this now with the sun streaming in through the window which is a bit annoying because yesterday it poured incessantly. We didn’t let the weather put a damper on things. This was our opportunity to celebrate Mum’s life. My sister sadly wasn’t well enough to be with us but other members of our family had travelled from all over the country. Some had arrived for the weekend. Others had driven through the rain from Manchester, from Devon, just for the day. I have a lovely family.
I have lovely friends too. They knew how anxious I was and several weeks ago they presented me with a fait accompli. They were ordering, preparing and serving all the food for a buffet lunch. So while they worked at our house we went to the cemetery. I unveiled the memorial stone and, after a short service in the Prayer House, I read a eulogy to Mum. It would have been easy to ask someone else to do it but I had been so close to Mum and I had things I wanted to say.
I wanted to tell the congregation about the four generations of family that mourned her. There’s only one family member remaining from Mum’s generation. There used to be so many of them. She told me recently how sad she was to be the last. It’s a lonely, and no doubt frightening, place to be.
I talked about my generation… although I didn’t mention that we will soon be that 'Oldest Generation'. I talked about the third layer of generation and how, just before Dad died in 1977 he wished that he could live to see his grandchildren grow. Mum was fortunate. She not only saw, she helped them grow. She did love her grandchildren.
As for the fourth generation, he’s not yet two and will sadly grow up with no memory of Great Grandma. My son brought him to see Mum two days before she died. The baby put his hand out to Mum. Mum put her hand out to the baby and they stayed like that for several long minutes. He may never remember it but I will never forget.
What does generation mean to you?