ST JAMES CHURCH
FRIDAY 19TH DECEMBER 10AM
SERVICE CONDUCTED BY FATHER STEPHEN LOCKE
– I’ll Remember You, Elvis Presley
– Nirvana, Adam Lambert
– Green Green Grass of Home, Tom Jones
When I think about my mam I think about a warm, caring person with a beautiful smile. She was one of the happiest people I have ever known and I was proud to call her my mother. She was only 20 when she gave birth to me, she was young, she had little but she gave me everything. To mam, nothing was about material things at all; happiness was derived from spending time with people she loved. In my early years, she shared a house with my precious Aunty Karen and her four children; we were close enough to call each other brother and sister and Karen was my second mum. I have nothing but the happiest memories of growing up with them all. Karen was there for my mother for 35 years and was there until her last moment; true friends for life.
The greatest gift a woman can give is the beautiful gift of life and mam lived for her children. She always spoke about how proud she was of her boys. When I went back to college mam was there at the end to help me celebrate my academic achievements. She told me she was proud of me all the time, making something of myself, and I was glad to make her proud. She was proud I managed to travel South East Asia – and somewhat bemused – if not surprised – when my lackadaisiness resulted in a broken elbow and an operation to remove my appendix! People here may know that my brother and I were quite different in the behavioural stakes (!) and it was fair to say I was the quiet one! Liam was more “challenging” shall we say! But mam and Liam were like two peas in a pod; fierce, passionate and unwavering in their determination to do or say what they wanted. she told us only last Saturday that she was proud of us and we will do everything they can to make her proud until we meet again in heaven. I will look after Liam as much as he will for me. Our families will grow closer from this day on.
Stephen was her world; he is mine and Liam’s father and a rock to us both. She was utterly proud when he achieved his dream of becoming a police officer and I know she will want my brother and I to look out for him as much as he will for us. They were inseparable for over a quarter of a century and mum will be an Angel, watching out for her dearly beloved as he moves on with his life. He will always be my father in every sense of the word and my mam will always be his partner. She loved him dearly and we will stick together.
Mum lived for her grandchildren and it is the single most important reason me and my brother made my mother proud. She adored George and Fallon and whilst in recent ill health she would loved to have seen them more. Despite having nothing she would give her grandchildren things what they needed. But more than that, she gave them the gift of love. A kiss and a cuddle from nanny is all that matters and she had plenty of those in abundance. She nannied Harrison and Jack too when they were kids; and it was when I seen mum the happiest, looking after children. To that end, working as a teaching assistant in West Park School for an autistic child called Charlie showed just how much my mum loved children. Our children will grow older each day and everyday they will be reminded of Nanny Bate.
If Liam and I made her proud, Vicky and Danielle, the women who bore our children, were equally important. She knew that her most important job in life was being a mother and she loved the women who are mothers of our children. She was a confidante to George’s mum, and a source of strength when she needed it most. When Danille and I were discussing mum’s deadpan sense of humour, she was recalled a time when she met her for the first time in the White Hart pub for a pub lunch. mum was telling us about her infatuation with Tom Jones and she regaled about the time she went to see him in concert. She told us that when Tom was singing a classic to the audience in Newcastle, he was asking the audience to sing the chorus along with him, no doubt so he could take a break given his geriatric condition. But whilst others around her sang back to Sir Tom, she said “I am paying to listen to you sing, so you f*ckin sing it!” Like most times she made us laugh it was the way she said it that had us in stitches. Vicky lived with my mum for about 18 months has been “mammy number 2” for 7 years. She will be proud that Liam has chosen a wonderful woman to spend the rest of his life with and she will be watching over us all in heaven.
There’s a few lads here today who I have known for most of my life; and I just want to read a few words my friend Danny Rowbotham said on Facebook when I posted the news: – mum was “such a lovely, funny, kind and strong woman” whilst Neil Stamper said mum was part of “many happy memories”. Others I grew up with on Throston Grange Estate passed their condolences and told me how lovely my mam was. She loved being interested in other people and she always asked after the lads and their mams. She was proud of my childhood friends who had become family men themselves and she would be proud of the lovely words people in her community have said about her.
Talking about community, I was stunned to learn that mum was an avid twitter user who followed her musical idol Adam Lambert online. Last week I thought I would write to him on twitter to tell him of my mums passing and within a couple of hours my message had been shared by mums online community in their hundreds and thousands; I was so heart-warmed to learn that she had connected with people from all over the world. People wrote to me to say that mum was a great person, a confidante, a source of help and comfort; all in all, a great friend. They have promised to hold her in their thoughts forever more and it makes my heart beam with pride that she was so well thought of both here and abroad. Within 5 hours Adam Lambert, her hero with nearly 2.5m followers, had posted a message of condolence about my mum; she would be jumping for joy in heaven she’d been tweeted. I was going to go to Newcastle Arena with mum only next month, she was close to seeing Adam after 5 years of solid devotion and being genuinely one of his biggest fans. It breaks my heart she never got to see him. However me and Liam were given two tickets by Adam to attend the concert in January and we will rock all night on behalf of my mother.
I know I have been talking a while but I just want to finish by saying a few words about the horrendous last week. Mum was housebound with illness recently but it felt like things were improving. Prior to her passing mum had spent the Saturday with her grandchildren at Fallon’s first birthday party; two days before that she had George over for three days and then before that she had tea at Liam and Vicky’s playing with Fallon. It’s gut-wrenching to think that her life was cut short as things were improving but on the other hand we take comfort that she had spent her last days surrounded by the people she loved doing things she always wanted to do.
On the day that Mam passed we arrived at hospital in the morning as she was fighting for her life. The sky was grey and full of snow; it was bitterly cold and sleeting as we arrived. Shortly after she died, I looked outside and seen that the sky had turned a stunning blue. It was so bright and sunny and I truly believe that as mum passed it was her way of saying that everything was ok and she was happy in Heaven, having embraced her beloved Arthur and her cherished mother; we should not sit here in glum darkness but look to a bright and fulfilling future. It is this thought that will guide me through the rest of my days; that my mum will guide me in death as she did in life. We will always love you mam. Goodnight and sleep tight. xx