Posted by Lyra Mollington
When my first grandchild was born, I decided I would like to be called Grandma. Fortunately the other grandmother decided she would prefer to be called Nanna.
A few years later, I overheard my grandchildren Sebastian and Chloe talking about their ‘other grandmother’ and they were calling her Nice Nanna. Intrigued, I wondered if perhaps I had been given a similar title, although I doubted if the vocabulary of two infant school children stretched to adjectives like ‘Glamorous’ or ‘ Gregarious’. And it was highly unlikely that they would call me ‘Gentle Grandma.’
No, it was none of the above. I was…Nutty Nanna.
Two weeks ago Nice Nanna died. Joyce was a lovely lady. Mr M took a real shine to her from their first meeting. And our daughter Jamie adored her.
The funeral took place on Wednesday. The undertaker had told Joyce’s family that they were ‘lucky’ to be able to have the funeral so soon because he was ‘rushed off his feet’ and the crematorium was ‘chocker’! It seems that to have to wait only ten days after someone dies is ‘a result’.
I didn’t know Joyce well. We had met on only a few special occasions. She was happily divorced and looked considerably younger than her seventy two years. The more I heard about her, the more I thought that perhaps Naughty Nanna might be a more suitable title.
I wasn’t sure whether the relationship was close enough to justify my attendance at the funeral. My daughter’s mother-in-law. Nanna to my grandchildren. And it’s such an awkward journey to Woking crematorium.
Of course I went! Woking Crematorium is the oldest in the country. The parking is terrible and to Mr M’s embarrassment we were nearly turned away by a young man on the gate who pointed sternly to the ‘Car Park Full’ sign nearby. However, when I asked him to have another look, a space miraculously appeared.
It’s an adorable chapel – and NO curtains. Instead there’s a small brass door and the coffin moves through it, as if by magic, at the critical moment. The organist sits high above the congregation on a balcony, together with any overflow of mourners.
Joyce’s family had chosen a traditional send-off with a lady vicar. She was very brisk giving the impression that she was late for another (much more important) engagement. Her name was either Beverley or Brenda. It wasn’t on the order of service and I have to confess I wasn’t listening properly – I was too busy trying to spot Joyce’s boyfriends.
Our granddaughter read a poem. I was very proud but made a mental note to tell Chloe that I would prefer a less sentimental reading when it’s my turn. On second thoughts, perhaps best not to say anything.
Joyce’s younger brother read the eulogy. He cleverly avoided any mention of ‘the divorce’ and ‘the boyfriends’ – one of whom I’m fairly sure had hidden himself away on the balcony with the organist. Nevertheless, it was an affectionate tribute and Geoffrey held it together very well. Except for the last bit. People will insist on ending a tribute with sentences like, ‘You were such a kind and caring person, adored by everyone. We will miss you so much – thank you for everything you did for us.’ Geoffrey crumbled at the word ‘kind’. Without waiting for him to compose himself, the vicar said the rest of the words for him.
One hymn. Yes, All Things Bright And Beautiful. I’m sure that hymn has it in for me. It pops up at almost every funeral I attend. Fortunately the organist played it in the key of C so I didn’t have to stretch my vocal chords too much.
The final piece of music was Get Happy, an extremely lively show tune. At ‘Forget your troubles,’ Brisk Lady Vicar was at the door like a bat out of hell. I had to smile when I noticed that she was struggling with the handle. (‘Get ready for the Judgement Day…’) She gave up and waited for someone to help her. I was pleased to see that the young lady chapel attendant was in no hurry to assist. She walked slowly along the aisle (‘We’re going to the promised land…’). When she was in line with the brass door, she bowed (‘It’s all so peaceful on the other side…’) and finally rescued the BLV (‘The Lord is waiting to take your hand…).
Once outside, I made a bee-line for our grandchildren, Seb and Chloe, to comfort them. They may be grown-ups but they still appreciate a hug from Nutty Nanna.
Exterior, Woking crematorium
Woking crematorium – the brass door
Woking crematorium – chapel balcony