So I thought now that the moment has passed, and the whole episode has been finished, I decided I would share my eulogy which read at the funeral today.
I tried for two weeks to find the right words, many attempts just seemed fake.. then this just came to me. I know very few of you will understand much of the content, but I wanted to put this online for my reference for the future.
I want to start by thanking everyone here for joining us today to remember the life of an amazing woman.
We will all have our own memories of Joan in so many different capacities, from a close and dear friend, aunty, neighbour and maybe even to her role as a civil servant of which she was so proud. A role that would go on to truly structure her life, and make Joan without a doubt one of the most organised and structured people I have had the pleasure of knowing. Sadly this wasn’t a quality that rubbed off on me.
Memories time spent with Joan go back as far as I can remember, our times at Northop Hall when mum, Joans sister would bring me and MY sister up for the summer holidays and Christmas. It was during these holiday visits that I first experienced something that anyone who dined with Joan would have known of her ability to cut bread almost paper thin, a sight that has stuck with me throughout life, and a feat I am yet to be able to replicate.
Each trip to Wales would always be an adventure for us, seeing exciting places, going for drives, and most memorable, time spent in Chester. Travelling to meet Joan with mum was an adventure in itself, and would always end by leaping off the train at the station and running to see Joan, always waiting with that big beautiful smile across her face standing by what ever pride and joy car she was driving at the time. Fun awaited, but it was always a surprise.
Summer holidays would see Joan take us to the city centre, and one thing was for certain lunch would be courtesy of Marks and Spencers, and would usually be taken by the canal. There we would all sit, making an awful mess of our hands faces and clothes. Maybe I should be a little clearer, by we I mean my sister and I, and not the always immaculate Joan, nor her equally proud sister, mum.
Visits to the house were memorable also, with so many things to see and do. Without a doubt, any visitor to any of Joans houses would have known one character, the little feathered friend better known as Cheeky. Always so full of song, and happy to have a flutter around the lounge while you sat there. Cheeky was another stone in Joan’s life, and brought so much companionship, joy and of course interaction with the line of ‘whos a cheeky boy then’ delivered by Joan in the hope of a reaction. Cheeky would usually oblige without
In later years, our trips to Wales became less frequent, and for a while the attachment and association was lost. But with the arrival of a driving licence, something I had wanted as far back as my memory serves, thanks to long drives with Joan and Peggy, I was able to rekindle the relationship.
My occasional trips to Wales would always result in a visit to see Joan, and usually unannounced. As I am sure Chris can testify, the welcome would always be so full of joy and happiness. Maybe I imagined that part, but im sure within the sarcasm of the welcome, Joans feelings were the same as mine. Connected, at one with someone I cared deeply about.
As an adult, conversations in later years were very varied, with curiosity and interests in things as far afield as nature and current affairs, conversations, discussions and indeed some time debates could run on for hours. Often starting out by reminiscing about distant memories of paddling in streams, running along beaches, or as I was frequently reminded, of my temper tantrums as a child. Not that I recall being anything other than angelic.
In the past few years Joan has reminded us all im sure, of who she really was. So organised and caring, making sure all around her were in good health, and taken care of. Never for a moment thinking of herself while there were still others to care for. Even over the past year or so, while trying to make a fuss of Joan, it would end up with roles being reversed, and the carer would become the cared for before you realised what was going on.
I have only touched on the very surface of who Joan Hughes was, to me at least. One thing I do know for certain is Joan was the kind of person you cant just simply forget, and I am sure her memories and stories will live on for generations yet. I am sure others here today also have some great stories to tell, and I look forwards to hearing some of those.
For now though, I rest peacefully knowing that Joan is back with her family, her two dear sisters Mary and Ann, and her mother and father Mary and John Lunt. The 3 sisters from Tan Lan are finally reunited, but their memories will live on with us all for many years to come.