Yesterday, Friday 12 th was the day of the funeral and our last goodbye to Julia. Many people may not understand-or agree- with our decision to honour her request for a religion free service. It was beautiful. Julia had a wonderful sense of humour and so my arrangements with the undertaker may have raised a few eyebrows but with the agreement of all the major players, Yvonne, Karen and Joanne we went ahead. I prepared the order of service which would be given out yesterday.
The hearse and the family car collected us at about 11.20 . The flowers reading ‘MUM’ from Yvonne and a large horseshoe from me were place aboard the coffin along with other family flowers. We were all wearing some token black but under my frockcoat I wore a silver waistcoat (vest) and a silver, flower patterned tie. Yvonne, my nieces and I got in the family car and the undertaker started walking in front of the hearse to guide it into traffic on the main road. We set off at a sedate pace and maintained it the whole journey. For anyone who’s journey was delayed because of us I apologise
We arrived at the crematorium at 11.40 and had a few minutes to wait while the previous mourners departed. At a beckoning motion from the funeral director someone opened the car doors and we were ready to go in. Julia had expected perhaps a dozen mourners or celebrants but I could see at least sixty people there. We entered to the strains of Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah by Alan Sherman and I’m sure Ju was laughing. The Reverend spoke for a few minutes to say we were there to celebrate the life of Julia before inviting Yvonne and my niece Karen up to speak. Yvonne spoke movingly about her beloved mother and described her as both mother and friends. Some things were so difficult she had to pause to regain control and the congregation had tears in their eyes. I know I cried as did Julia’s sister Muriel behind me who was so close to Julia in many ways. Karen read Julia’s poem which it turns out she helped to write. She also choked and her audience followed suit.
The Reverend introduced the song Hey Ho by the Lumineers which had become a firm favourite by Julia recently after hearing it on an advert. The words ‘I belong to you, you belong to me, Be mine Sweetheart’ brought on the eyeball sweats again. The tissue manufacturers saw their share prices rise accordingly. As the song ended I was called along with Ugo to speak. Many of you won’t know that I stutter badly when faced with strangers and so I kept my head down as I laid a single lily in remembrance on the coffin and for the whole time I spoke about Julia and her kindness, her being my rock and making me wheeze by introducing rats, degus and anything else to the house .( I confess, I love them all). I had to stop three or four times to regain my composure and kick myself for not buying shares in tissues before I left. I finished with a poem by E.E.Cummings called I hold you in my heart. Ugo followed me and made sure everyone knew what a privilege it was to know Julia and be welcomed into the family by so caring a person who never judged. Even my stoic son in law needed my comfort up there when he choked and the audience choked with him. There was such sadness and yet such Joy at having known her.
The Reverend started the committal with some nice words and to the music of Fun with We are Young, Julia’s casket was borne away and the curtains closed. The Reverend gave a nice speech about Julia, including how wrong the comedian Les Dawson had been about Mothers -in-law and how Julia had been many different things to many different people, Julia Prosser the mother, Julia Prosser the wife the aunt, the friend. Julia Prosser, Lady of Bouldnor, the fundraiser for good causes, Julia Prosser the mother in law and the lover of animals. Yet while being all these people she was ONE PERSON in one body all the time. Thinking about it that must be true of all of us that different people see us in different ways in different roles. I hope we’re nice in all of them.
We then stood for the closing as we were told to stay strong for Ju and she was wished a safe journey to follow her belief of meeting up with her parents again until it’s time for us to be together again. I have no doubt she’s with them and enjoying a lot of pain free rides on all the horses in the sunlight. We walked out of the crematorium to the strains of Talk Talk and their record Life’s What You Make It.
Back out in the daylight we met all those who had come to pay their respects. Ugo’s family who’d travelled from London and Birmingham ( not Alabama), My sister-in-law’s daughter ( yes, a long winded way of saying my niece) Hayley, who had also driven from London that morning, friends from the cafes I wrote of in the books that she so loved visiting, friends of Yvonne’s who had met her and loved her and her friends from the two stables she used. Llanfynydd RDA with their wonderful staff, especially Di who helped her so much and Carl and Storm from Pennant Park which now has it’s indoor arena ( we still need a hoist though- subtle hint). I took the canvas of Julia that had been on the coffin and we repaired to the pub where glasses and cups were raised to her picture on the mantlepiece as she watched us enjoy her day. She will never be forgotten.