It wasn’t what I was planning to do with my day off, but it is my own mother. I don’t know how many Mondays she’ll have left.
“You’re late Ann. We’ll go into the sitting room for this,” she says when I get there. She doesn’t come in here much now since we put a soft chair in the kitchen. She hardly watches that grand telly we bought for her a few years back. It’s too cold in there, she says.
But she’s in here today for the funeral. She wants me to watch it with her to look things up. She won’t put on the heat on account of “oul Putin”. I get a hot water bottle ready for her for fear she’d get chilblains.
“Whisht Ann! Here she comes.”
They’re bringing the Queen in. “A gun carriage,” says Mam. “Aren’t they the right yoke for a funeral now. Would you put me on a gun carriage?”
“We’d never get it into the door of the church in Kilsudgeon, Mam. Even after they widened it.”
“Those new doors are too stiff altogether,” says Mam. “They’d nearly knock you over. I said it to Father Pat, those doors are a fright and he said they have to have a good spring on them for health and safety. Shur what good is health and safety if you’re on the flat of your back after getting a belt of a door?”
There’s no problem with the doors for the Queen anyway. They’re good and wide. Mam is silent again for a good while.
“They’ve lovely hymns. Beautiful singing. I don’t know why they done away with the singing here.”
“Maybe some people wanted a shorter Mass Mam.”
“Ah people. Always in a hurry. And to go out and do what? Read the papers and get bad news. You missed it earlier Ann. C’mere till I tell you. There was a wan who didn’t get the shake hands at the door?! She was raging. I don’t know who the woman was. They should put labels on the telly. Don’t they know we’d be curious about it?”
Mam spots everything.
“Who’s this fella now?”
“The Archbishop of Canterbury Mam. He’s going to do the sermon.”
“She’ll be delighted with the turnout. The cratur. And with all the priests on the altar.” More silence.
“What’s that fella doing with the snooker queue?”
I’m on the phone looking it up. “He’s breaking the Wand of Office Mam.”
“They should have it a bank holiday here too like they do in England,” says Mam. And this is a woman who hasn’t done much on a Monday for 30 years apart from writing out her prescription.
“Oh there’s herself. Meghan.”
I can’t tell if Mam approves of Meghan or not. Mam’s pure odd when it comes to the Royal family. This is a woman whose own mother ran the Black and Tans out of her house but rang me in London when I was over training to see had they a name picked out for Sarah Ferguson’s first child. And then said, “WHAT KIND OF A NAME IS BEATRICE?” down the phone to me.
“Meghan’s crying, Ann. I hope they made it up now. A row in a family is an awful thing. I don’t want to be thinking about any rows. You’ll tell me won’t you Ann. If I’ve wronged anyone. Before I go.”
“I will Mam.” But I’ve no intention of doing that. I know well she’d start an inquisition if I said a bit to her.
The Queen is being brought out now. Suddenly Mam’s in a panic. “They never said where they’d go after!”
“What do you mean Mam?”
“The priest should say what the arrangements are.”
“Mam I don’t think they’ll all be going for sandwiches to a pub.”
We’re watching them go down the road now.
“Poor oul Charlie would like this.” It takes me a while to figure out she’s talking about Daddy.
Mam looks over at my father’s chair. “He loved a good funeral.”